Grin and bear it


Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 4.21.24 PMCustomer complaints are an unavoidable part of any retail industry. The automotive industry is one of the largest customer service industries in existence.

Even if your dealership has the best location, the best price, and the best product/service, it is doomed to fail if it doesn’t understand and respect the value of its customers.

Building and maintaining a strong customer base is one of the best ways to ensure the long-term success of your dealership.

Unfortunately, customers do not always begin and remain satisfied. The success of your dealership is highly dependent on your ability as a service provider to turn negative circumstances into opportunities for more satisfied customers.

Here are six tips that can help you turn a potential enemy into a lifelong friend, a strong supporter and an advocate.


Start by getting yourself in the right frame of mind. Prepare yourself mentally and emotionally and focus 100 per cent of your time and attention on dealing with the situation on hand.

Be ready to absorb negative energy, complaints and accusations from an unhappy customer. When you encounter an upset customer, create an environment that will yield positive results.

But remember that every problem has an ultimate outcome, based on symptoms and facts. It all depends on your ability to probe the root cause and navigate the resolution process.


Being positive, patient and intently listening to customers can go far at diffusing concerns and turning them into collaboration.

Always be gracious and thank the customer for bringing the concern to your attention. Put the customer at ease by acknowledging their complaint with regret for the inconvenience it caused.

These simple and small gestures show your kindness and willingness to take the customer’s concerns seriously, and resolve them to their satisfaction. 


It’s important to always assume that customers are upset over a situation and not necessarily with you.

You are the target of that anger because you are the customer’s only direct contact with the dealership at that point in time.

Make sure the customer knows that you have heard their complaint. Listen with empathy without interruption and let customers vent their frustration.

At the same time, when a customer is full of hostility, anger, and negative energy, it is important to find a way to diffuse the anger.

Building and maintaining a strong customer base is one of the best ways to ensure the long-term success of your dealership


Remember that your dealership does more than just fix cars. It is equally, if not more important, that you fix the concerns of your customers.

Listening for the core issues is harder than it seems. You will be able to do this if you have a clear idea of the true concerns and priorities. But you do need to be able to see things through the eyes of your customers.


Each negotiation will be unique based on the customer profile and nature of concerns, so propose a mutually agreeable solution and make it a priority to take action immediately.

The process of resolving complaints may seem cumbersome.

But once you consider the possible costs of not arriving at an acceptable solution, which could mean a lost customer, bad publicity, or, in some cases, legal action, it is an investment of time, effort and energy that is worth making.   

Before proceeding with the solution, make sure there is complete agreement between all parties involved.

For example, if you’re offering any gesture of goodwill to compensate the customer’s time and trouble, like a free oil change, make sure to consult with the department manager for approval.

Such types of coordination with your team members are important for tracking the cost of resolving an issue.    


Once an agreement has been reached, recap the issue one last time, and thank the customer for the opportunity to be of service.

Follow up with the customer after the resolution process to reconfirm their satisfaction, and then close the case from your end.   

Whatever the cause, unhappy customers are still our guests and our hope for future business, and we want them to be happy again.

Your ability to resolve customer disputes will have a profound impact on the ultimate success and growth of your dealership business.

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Canadian auto dealer