How To Deal With Irate Dealership Customers

When dealing with irate customers, sometimes it takes a cool-down period when emotions are running high and no solution seems in sight. Ken Potter, vice president of auto sales at CarsDirect.com, is careful to ask the angry customer, Tell me what it is you want me to do? What would you like the outcome to be? Identify the problem fully and be able to articulate what makes the customer upset, he says.

When dealing with irate customers, sometimes it takes a cool-down period when emotions are running high and no solution seems in sight.

Ken Potter, vice president of auto sales at CarsDirect.com, is careful to ask the angry customer, “Tell me what it is you want me to do? What would you like the outcome to be?”

Identify the problem fully and be able to articulate what makes the customer upset, he says. “It may be that customers felt the dealer stuck them with unnecessary repairs, they have buyer's remorse, or the vehicle now has problems.”

The percentage of irate buyers or customers from hell is small, he notes. And a great deal of what perpetuates the problem is an inability to listen or act on their behalf.

To aid in managing the customer process, Potter advises:

  • Articulate the decision-making process to the customer.
  • To figure out what the customer really wants, ask them.
  • Fully clarify and restate what the customer sees as the problem.
  • Take notes, write down facts and empathize with the customer.
  • Don't always jump to the first solution that comes to mind.
  • Follow up and get more information and figure out all the options you can for them.
  • Give them a cool-down period.
  • Get a supervisor involved if necessary. Budge on price if needed.
  • Present them with options; even if the answer is no.

“The customer isn't always right. But you might choose to make the customer right,” Potter says.

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