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If Something Has Gone Wrong for Your Customer, Fix it ASAP

Posted By Liz Keener, Wednesday, July 29, 2020

When discussing following up with recent buyers, we’ve heard some dealer express reluctance. What if the customer is truly unhappy? What if the issue is something with the boat that you can’t fix yourself quickly? What if the customer’s boat needs to come back to service, and you’re already overbooked?

First, that’s no reason to not follow-up with your customers. The fear of the unknown is a poor excuse for not offering the levels of customer experience that your customers expect.

Second, follow-up helps you discover those issues that arise and address them as they come.

Sometimes the feedback may be something small, such as, “I thought I purchased four lifejackets, but when I got home, there were only three in the boat.” Other times, it will be something much bigger, as in, “After the second time out with the boat, the dang thing won’t even start.”

But without asking, you’ll never know where these issues are surfacing.

And, even better, by asking, you get the opportunity to fix the issue. Data from the Technical Assistance Research Programs (TARP) and others shows that by fixing a customer’s issue, you can actually build more loyalty than you can from just the sale.

Here’s some of that data from TARP:

  • Ninety-five percent of customers with minor complaints ($1-$5 losses) will buy from you again, if you solve their complaint quickly. Of those with major complaints (over $100 losses), 82 percent will buy from you again if you solve their complaint quickly.
  • On the flip side, if their complaints aren’t resolved, only 46 percent of customers with minor issues will return, while only 19 percent with major complaints will come back.
  • And, again, don’t think that not asking for feedback helps. Of those who are unhappy with minor issues, who don’t actually share their complaint, only 37 percent will return to your business. Those with major issues who don’t complain will only return 9 percent of the time.
  • And those non-complainers will tell 9-10 other people about their bad experience.

So, what can you do to serve your customers? In her course, “Turn Upset Customers into Loyal Ones” on, Valerie Ziebron shares the Five Keys to Turn Upset Customers into Dealership Advocates.

They are:

1.     Recognize basic expectations: Your customers have expectations of trust, quality, convenience, personalized service and value when they work with a dealership, so offer them those things.

2.     Fix the customer and the issue: You have to fix the customer, meaning restore the trust with them, first. You have to listen. You cannot assume that by fixing the issue, fixing the boat, that they will be happy.

3.     Create a partnership: As Valerie explains, “Customers who feel they participated in solving the issue are more satisfied with the solution.” As dealers, you need your customers to help you diagnose a problem (when, how often, under what conditions), so informing them that they’re part of the solution will empower them to help you, so you can ultimately fix their issue.

4.     Be open and fair: Most customers will accept honest mistakes if you own up to them, apologize and correct the mistake. Show the customers with a visual, if you can.

5.     Have a plan for recovery: In this session, Valerie talks about service recovery, but the same could be said for sales. Everyone on the team should be trained in conflict resolution and the dealership’s process for handling upset customers.

Of course, all situations can’t be fixed quickly. Right now, getting certain parts is hard, and you’re already extremely busy trying to get work done this summer. Just be honest and transparent with your customer and offer them the best solution you can at the time, while setting expectations for when the final resolution will come.

Remember, the goal of improving the customer experience at your dealership is to show your customers that you’re their friend and guide in their boating lifestyle. When a customer does come to you with a complaint, take a step back and think how you’d want to be treated in that same situation, or how you would treat your friend or neighbor if you sold a boat to them, and they had the same issue.

The data shows that by helping that customer, fixing their issue and restoring their trust, you can flip the unhappy customer to a raving, loyal fan.

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