Reporter's Blog

How to Calm an Upset Customer

Order Reprints

In his 25 years in the auto industry, Gerry Rosenbarker has dealt with a frustrated customer or two. His tactic in those situations: kill ‘em with kindness.

Rosenbarker, the longtime manager at Mohawk Collision Center in Scotia, NY, has found that taking a little extra time to explain estimates, for example, can save your facility plenty of grief down the line.

“Being able to have those conversations with a customer, so they really understand, is extremely important,” says Rosenbarker, whose shop boasts a sterling, 98.7 CSI score. “Otherwise, a customer’s just going to glance over an estimate [and say] ‘Why are they charging me for those [items]?”

Rosenbarker typically calms frustrated customers by taking the following measures:

 

Go Over Estimates Line By Line.

At Mohawk Collision Center, the staff is required to explain estimates thoroughly to customers—no matter how busy the New York shop (average monthly car count: 220) might be. After all, Rosenbarker says, “the customer doesn’t understand how to read an estimate.

“Let’s use a perfect example: Their vehicle is a four-door sedan, and it needs a driver’s door—and only a driver’s door. If you don’t explain to the customer why you’re dropping the front bumper and taking the headlight out that bumps up against the fender, [the customer] thinks you’re going to steal from him. … So, you have to explain why you have to blend into the fender, why you have to drop the bumper away, and that we want to make sure that you have a 100 percent color match.”

 

Present Estimates Carefully.

Rosenbarker is a believer in under-promising and over-delivering. When Mohawk Collision Center emails a client an estimate, for example, the veteran manager makes sure to keep expectations relatively in check, at least initially.

“If we’re sending an estimate to a customer based off a photo app,” Rosenbarker notes, “we basically have a disclaimer in there that states that we can only write for what we see, and there’s a strong possibility for additional damage.”

 

In General, Educate Customers.

Ultimately, Rosenbarker has learned, customers want to feel like they have options. They certainly don’t want to be pressured into a decision.

Occasionally Mohawk Collision Center will have a customer that needs work addressed on a front bumper, or a headlight, and they groan at the sight of the estimate, perhaps because they view their vehicle as too old to justify a costly repair.

In those cases, Rosenbarker says, “we give them an option for an aftermarket [part] and we explain what the differences are between an aftermarket headlight and [OEM], and what the differences would be, cost-wise and fit-and-finish-wise, long term. So, we allow them to make that decision.”

Related Articles

How to Build an Engaging Newsletter

How to Create An Online Payment Form

How does DRP use impact how customers view a shop?

You must login or register in order to post a comment.