Marketing Tip: Avoiding an Unsatisfied Customer

For the past six weeks I have had a very unpleasant experience with my new car company. Here’s what happened and how they could have avoided an irate, unsatisfied customer (who, by the way, loves to blog…). 

I bought a car the beginning of December, trading in my Passat. The deal was pretty low hassle, that is until I started receiving collection calls from my former car company two weeks later.  

Problem #1 – they did not payoff my trade-in. When I called to inquire about the status of my trade-in payoff, I was forwarded to voicemail and there was no return phone calls (this occurred for about a week).

I then made a trip to the dealership and was told by the sales manager that I should make the payment “to avoid it effecting my credit and to stop the calls.” He agreed that the company would reimburse me (of course I got this in writing).  

Solution: There should be a company-wide policy that ensures all customers receive a return call within 24-48 hours. At this point the customer should be offered an update, or at the least an “I got your message and I’m looking into it.” This would have avoided me having to visit the dealership in person, and I would have been able to update the former car company alleviating the collection calls. 

When I visited the dealership the sales manager should have agreed to make the payment directly to avoid me having to do additional work. He could have also offered an apology for my trouble and offered a discount on my first scheduled service.

The discount would have benefited him in two ways. First of all, it would have been a good faith gesture. Secondly, since I was a new customer, it would be a great way to foster loyalty to their service department.

Problem #2 – The sales manager got amnesia and was condescending during our conversation. After two weeks of waiting for my reimbursement check I contacted the sales manager via phone. He admitted that the paperwork had not been processed because he refused to approve a reimbursement check, stating he “never agreed to that.” I reminded him that I had it in writing. He still refused, becoming dismissal about my concerns.

This resulted in me going to the dealership on a Saturday (no small feat for a busy person…) to talk with the general sales manager.  

Solution: The sales manager should use tones that are customer-friendly, even after a car is purchased. And at no time should he use condescending tones and language. Since most people buy a new car every 3-5 years, this would encourage referrals and return business.

Secondly, because I was asked to make the payment and then submit a receipt he should have immediately upheld his part of the agreement. Even if he did not remember the entire conversation (which I seriously doubt), it was in writing. He should have agreed to the reimbursement to keep a satisfied customer.

Additionally, a “thank you for your business” card would have been a nice touch. 

Problem #3 – The general sales manager asks me to come in on Monday – he needs time to “research it.” As a customer I find this unacceptable because all of the involved parties are available now (yes, the sales manager was working, and he was still dismissal about our agreement!).

Also, I have the original signed agreement for him to review. I also have a copy of the email that I sent to his sales manager regarding the reimbursement. Needless to say I am now extremely upset and see a lawsuit in the near future.  

Solution: A quick agreement to the reimbursement would have been great. The general sales manager could also offer a complimentary first service or even “a dinner for two” for the inconvenience. 

Finale: The general sales manager agrees to the reimbursement. Furthermore, I walk out with my reimbursement amount in cash. The general sales manager says he wants to keep satisfied customers and says I should deal with him directly moving forward. I leave liking him, but still upset about the course of events. I’m hesitant to return to the dealership, and I’ll tell everyone I know to avoid the condescending sales manager at all costs.   

Summary: It really is the little things that contribute to a satisfied customer experience. Most of them don’t take a lot of time, but it definitely makes you and/or your company stand out. Also, it is very important that everyone in your company, from the receptionist to the owner, understands the importance of good customer service. 

Towanda Long aka The Café Lady


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