Problems and Opportunities
The problem with problems is that sales people see them as mistakes and not opportunities.
Wouldn't it be amazing if a customer's problem with a job led to a great outcome? In fact, it'd be cooler still if the result was a level of customer satisfaction that would not have happened had the problem not occurred in the first place!
A couple of blogs ago I wrote about a bad car shopping experience. As stated, I ended up buying the Volkswagen Jetta TDI. The buying experience was less than stellar, unless you enjoy being repeatedly lied to, mistreated and blamed. If that's the case, it was awesome!
I'll spare you the details of the transaction but everything went wrong. Everything.
Okay, you say, so what's the big deal? So, they lied about contacting my insurance agent and sure, they forgot to tell me that it takes TWO days to register a leased car with vanity plates ("ASPIRE") and okay, so a sales rep who goes home instead of fulfilling the promise of returning a phone call can be a little aggravating, but once I got the car all was forgotten, right?
Nope. They delivered the wrong color car.
I asked for white and of the 10 people I asked to name its color, none have used the word, "white" in their description: Pearl, Champagne, Taupe, Cloud....anything but the Candy White color I was told would be showing up. Silly me. I should have asked for a PMS color.
Come on, guys. How do you screw up "white???"
Me being my usual calm, peaceful, understanding self, I ended up making a suggestion that the sales manager park the car in a place that is anatomically impossible. Mr. Bigglesworth was definitely angry at this point.
The situation went from dumb to dumber to dumber-er.
Okay, enough venting. Let's talk about the lessons to learn from incompetent car salesmen (am I being redundant?):
- Apologize when there is a problem! The first words out of your mouth need to be something like, "I am sorry for the inconvenience?" and then follow them up by saying, "What do you need in order to make this right?" It wasn't until I got to the owner that those two phrases met up.
- Listen. Angry customers want to spew. Let them. Don't interrupt.
- Communicate! When there is a screw-up, keep the customer informed and don't ever, ever, EVER tell a client that you'll call him right back and then not call him right back. Be impeccable with your word.
- Solve the freaking problem as quickly as possible.
As an epilogue, I took delivery of the car and absolutely love it. (55+ mpg and a rocketship 6-speed manual. Who wouldn't?)
A happy customer tells his wife how happy he is and that's that. An angry customer tells EVERYONE and anyone who will listen. Mistakes happen. Things hit fans. But when you make mistakes and mishandle the resolution, they seem bigger than they really are.
You need to look at a problem as if it is an opportunity to demonstrate the kind of service we all claim to provide. Make it your goal to come out better BECAUSE of the problem than if the job had gone off without a hitch. I wish the dealership would hire me to tell them what they did wrong. Instead...
The first thing I did when I accepted the car was to take the dealer's nameplate off of the back, snap it in half, and hand it back to the delivery boy, who giggled as he left (I tipped him twenty bucks. It wasn't HIS fault). I will likely keep the car. I think that is the best thing for me at this point. The best thing for the dealership is to listen to my complaints and make corrections.
Oh, and I'd also appreciate it if they'd try the anatomically impossible option, too. Maybe it'd end up parked next to their brains!
Learn to sell print. Go to http://www.aspirefor.com/Aspire_For/Sell_Print.html and read about Bill's Sales Challenge. Bill can be reached at 781-934-7036 or firstname.lastname@example.org.