Tag Archive | "Customer service"

EXERCISING CAUTION WHEN HANDLING COMPLAINTS

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EXERCISING CAUTION WHEN HANDLING COMPLAINTS


No matter what industry you work in, there will come a time when you receive a complaint based upon the services or goods you have provided.

Unfortunately, the automotive industry is no exception, and it can be easy to see such complaints as an unjustified attack on your company’s good reputation. In the heat of the moment, aggrieved business owners can jump to the defence of their company, engaging in a war of words with the complainant.

According to Gemma Carson, Head of Dispute Resolution at law firm Wright Hassall, they could do more harm than good: “Naturally, business owners can feel like they have a duty to protect their employees, and without thinking, fire back with an angrily worded email, expressing their displeasure with the original complaint.

“When emotions are running high, it is easy to get involved in a heated debate about the rights and wrongs, mistakes and failures, or actions and inactions of one party or another. It is at this point that things can escalate quickly and easily get out of control.

“The most serious issues can occur when promises or threats are made without due consideration given to any existing contractual agreements between the two parties.

“To reduce the risk of worsening the situation, there is plenty that can be done and it should start with a careful consideration of the content of the complaint. The pressure may be on, but take your time and ensure you make no commitments and no threats.

“Allow yourself time to properly cool down before sending a response, as emails sent while emotions are still running high have a nasty habit of biting back later down the line. “Instead, begin by drafting your email and save it to your ‘virtual mantelpiece’. This will give you time to review the situation and think carefully about what you want to say, instead of hitting back with a knee-jerk reaction.

“It is also important to check whether a service agreement and/or a contract exists between the parties. You should read any agreements carefully and check what they actually contain.“With an agreement in place, you may be able to respond to the complaint by highlighting any relevant contractual terms that may help you manage the situation.

DON’T IGNORE
“When dealing with a complaint, it is important to be proactive. By acting quickly, you can help diffuse the situation without the need for any legal involvement.

“Personal, face-to-face meetings will often help resolve issues before they can escalate. It is best to either raise the matter directly or if you suspect it to be more serious, to seek legal advice before you make contact.

“If it does feel serious, you should ensure you retain all of the relevant information relating to the complaint, including documents, correspondence and any products or specimen products from the same batch. It can help if you carry out and document any inspections of equipment or machinery.

GET HELP
“Seeking legal advice early on does not necessarily mean a serious legal dispute has arisen.

“Dispute resolution advice is very effective when delivered soon after the complaint is received, but your lawyers do not need to take an active role in the issue. They can offer strategic legal guidance focused on resolving complaint situations and diffusing potential disputes, whilst preserving the commercial position for the future.

“The most important legal factor to remember is that making a rash statement or taking a knee- jerk decision to stop providing your services or products, by sending that angry e-mail draft without first putting it on the virtual mantelpiece, may cause a serious breach of contract.

“If nothing else you risk a serious argument and potentially a threat of injunctive proceedings. In simple terms, a breach of contract can entitle the party affected by it to terminate the contract and then bring legal proceedings against you for damages.

“For this reason, sending that inflammatory e-mail without firstconsideringthe consequences could be a huge mistake that ends up costing time and money, both of which could be better spent managing or growing the business.

“Finally, where parties have become so embroiled that legal proceedings are not only threatened, but seem the only option, choose to work with experienced lawyers who understand commercial disputes and demonstrate a commitment to reaching an early, commercial and cost- effective resolution” concluded Carson.

Posted in CAT Know-How, Factor & Supplier News, Garage News, Retailer NewsComments (0)

GOING ABOVE AND BEYOND CUSTOMER EXPECTATIONS

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GOING ABOVE AND BEYOND CUSTOMER EXPECTATIONS


We pay another visit to the Rogers family at Wrexham Motoring Supplies

Jonathan and Alun Rogers

Jonathan and Alun Rogers

As a CAT Award nominee, we thought it was high time for a return visit to accessory store Wrexham Motoring Supplies.

The third generation retailer will hit its 50th milestone next year as an independent supplying garages and ‘DIY mechanics’ in the town of Wrexham. Founder Arthur Jones established the shop in 1968 and kept it solely as a family-run entity that was later entrusted to his daughter Gaynor and son-in-law Alun Rogers after he died in 1971. Since then, Arthur’s grandson Jonathan now heads up the operation alongside his father.

To say the father and son duo were shocked was an understatement after finding out they’d been shortlisted for the Retailer of the Year Award “We were surprised to say the least,” said Jonathan, “I even e-mailed the Editor to find out how we got nominated, but we were very thankful and humbled to have been considered for the award”.

STORE LAYOUT
We felt the Rogers family did not give themselves enough credit for what seemed like a clean and tidy establishment stocking a number of well-known aftermarket brands with customers popping in and out for various items and the occasional chat during our visit. From Bosch wiper blades to Laser tools there were many accessory shop staples hanging up on display behind the counter for technicians and car enthusiasts alike. The middle of the store encompassed a range of low viscosity oils from Millers and Castrol, which were lined up in single file across the shelves; complemented with a variety of car care products and kits for extra road safety and vehicle maintenance.

Store is clean and organised

Store is clean and organised

CUSTOMER SERVICE
“Our fastest selling lines are brake pads, oils, bulbs and filters”, said Alun Rogers. “If someone comes in for a bulb or wiper, we will fit it for them because they’re not the easiest thing to fit, and won’t charge for fitment as we’ll hopefully see the customer return later”. Jonathan concurs, explaining that the driving force behind the retailer was going beyond customer expectations with a decent range and free fitting. “We bank on the personal side of the continual customer where most of them come back. Some wipers can take up to ten minutes to fit but we don’t charge for this because we want to help our customers.” he said, adding that the firm also responds to call-outs from garages and DIY enthusiasts for vehicles in need of a jump-start.

Although competition is quite fierce in the area with the likes of ECP and CES just a short distance from the store, Jonathan reiterates the fact that customer service has been a key element to keeping the business afloat while standing out against the local competition. “Our main competitors around here are CES, Euro Car Parts and the LVW Group’s Rollings”, Jonathan continued: “Personal service makes us stand out and we still maintain an element of being a bit ‘old fashioned’ where we’re up-to-date with everything. We offer personal services, and customer satisfaction is our top priority, which is why we’re still here because we’ve become close friends with our customers”.

PRODUCTS
More recently, the Rogers family have extended their product portfolio by supplying Wix Filters and introducing welding gas. Jonathan said the introduction of gas came into effect due to growing customer demand and no rental charges on the cylinders.

Being a UAN member also has its perks allowing the firm to attain more ‘buying power’ from aftermarket brands at cheaper rates. Additionally, the membership offers seasonal promotions that the Rogers can take advantage off as and when required. The store’s website and Facebook channels has been a strong source for advertising and increasing its client Rolodex, as Jonathan points out. “We have a Facebook account and website which we are in the process of updating. We also do some local advertising at car rallies and the Wrexham Football Club”.

For the near future, the team have no drastic expansion plans, apart from continuing Arthur’s legacy and growing their customer base with some more clients already coming onto the books in due course. We look forward to revisiting the Rogers Family for another brew in 2018.

Posted in Factor & Supplier News, News, Out and About with CAT, Retailer NewsComments (0)

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DEALING WITH CUSTOMER COMPLAINTS


Andy Savva – Running a garage would be easy if it wasn’t for the customers. Andy Savva has some tips for dealing with complaints.

Andy Savva

Andy Savva has run various large independent garages and has been a troubleshooter for underperforming franchise workshops.

Running any business, and perhaps more so a service business like an independent garage, you have to learn to recognise there are different types of customers with different expectations. How we deal and adapt our services the customer journey to meet and exceed these expectations are essential if we are going to succeed in having a healthy profitable business. This function must be adopted by everyone in your organisation regardless of size.

However occasionally we are faced with challenging customers who usually complain in a passively aggressive manner. These customers feel they have a reason to be upset. I always used to say to my team at Brunswick Garage, that there will always be a small percentage of customers that we will never be able to please, and importantly we must not let these handful of customers taint our view of all customers. When you find yourself having to deal with a disgruntled customer, remembering a few simple techniques can help to defuse the situation. Both parties being upset and defensive will not amount to anything positive.

In my experience running independent garages, I came to the realisation that in virtually every case of an unhappy customer, all that was needed to resolve the concern was to actually listen to them!

KEEP QUIET

Now, the customer isn’t always right, but it’s not always okay to tell them that, sometimes you have to act as if they are right. Active listening, eye contact, nodding your head in agreement, being on the same level with them, expressing empathy, and relating to how the customer is feeling can be incredibly helpful. Remember to place yourself in the customer’s position or frame of mind and never patronise a customer or look for excuses. We are working in an industry where many aspects of the customer journey have to come together, from the initial phone call to returning the customers vehicle keys, so we have to accept that sometimes things go wrong however much we try to avoid mistakes.

Once you have been able to establish some rapport, you may find a mutually agreeable resolution to the problem, and you must do whatever you can to achieve this outcome. Explain to the customer what you are going to do to help the situation. It could be engaging the customer in a test drive to better understand the complaint, admitting the garage made a mistake, or if possible offering the customer a lift back home, work or a loan vehicle while you resolve their issue. You must assure at all times the customer feels that you are truly trying your best to resolve their concern and provide them with the least convenience as possible.

GARAGE VISITCustomer_complaints

Many of us have worked in the automotive sector for so long we forget what it is like to bring our vehicle for repair. Knowing what your competition is doing can also pay dividends in other ways too. It can help you set yourself apart by creating a business experience, an atmosphere that is different from any other garage locally and far beyond.

Keeping perspective when it comes to the customer experience will help you to create a positive customer experience and maintain a solid customer base. At Brunswick Garage we were of course never happy to receive complaints, however we used it as a prompt to better our service and if a customer made the effort to write or email us with a concern we displayed their comments in reception with the thank you letters. We wanted to show our customers that we were not perfect, but also show them we took complaints very seriously and we always aimed at achieving a positive outcome. Learning to handle challenging customers will build respect for your business and ultimately result in higher customer retention & profits.

You can find out about Andy’s consultancy services by contacting: savvaautomotive.com

Posted in CAT Know-How, Factor & Supplier News, Garage News, NewsComments (0)

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