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Unhappy CustomerIn Part 1, we talked about how customer’s perceptions on Price, Completeness of the Repair, and Meeting Time Expectations leads to customer dissatisfaction, according to a recent Consumer Reports Annual Auto Survey.  Here, we’ll finish up the Top 5 List and discuss why customers “quit” a repair shop.

Bring Car Back Because the Repair Didn’t “Hold Up”
18% of those dissatisfied with their repair said that they have to come back because the repair wasn’t complete or the fix didn’t last.  Sometimes you do your best and this happens.  Sometimes you make a mistake or get a little sloppy and this happens.  Either way, how you treat your customer along the way and after the job is finally done, should leave them feeling like they’ve been dealt with fairly.

I remember picking up my Suburban after having the flex plate replaced.  When I climbed in and put it in Drive the dash indicator still read Park.  I think that should have been caught by the tech.  I left it another day.  I got a call that the tech had broken a part while connecting the sensor and would it be ok if I paid for the part and they would eat the labor.  Another 80 bucks.  Then when I picked it up the dash gear indicator was still spotty.  Another trip back – never did get it right.  A day later the truck wouldn’t start – the starter had been moved during the repair and didn’t get tightened down properly so it slid out of position enough that it couldn’t engage the engine to turn it over.  An expensive tow to get it fixed.

The situation turned out to be a nightmare for both me and the shop.  It was not a contentious experience at all, but I’m sure they were glad to see my taillights when I left for the last time.  And I do mean the last time.  I’ve never been back.  My perception – the come-backs (all three of them) should not have happened and that they didn’t do enough to make it right with me.

Staff Treated Them Poorly
Something over 6% of those dissatisfied felt that the staff had treated them poorly (dealerships were cited at twice the rate of aftermarket shops in this category).  OK, there are some people that always think they’ve been treated poorly – not much you can do about them.  But for everybody else: this is entirely within your power.  Courtesy, kindness and respect: shouldn’t these basic virtues be extended to everybody that comes through your door?  The grumpy, the clueless – yeah they get the royal treatment too; from start to finish.  There’s no excuse for anyone in your operation to treat a customer poorly.

Those Who Quit You
Almost a quarter of those that reported dissatisfaction said that they’ve stopped using a shop within the last five years due to their service experience.  Now that works out to nearly 7%. That group is split evenly between dealerships and the aftermarket.

30% of females who stopped using a shop said they did so because they felt the staff tried to take advantage of them because they were women.  We recently conducted a focus group for our Lobby TV product.  All of the women said that they feared being taken advantage of or lied to because of their gender.  Now that’s a powerful perception.  What can you do to overcome it?

Certainly don’t do stupid things like the service writer who told our office manager she needed more “bumper fluid – just $35”.  Anything that comes across as “Don’t you worry your pretty head little lady, we’ll take care of you” is condescending and will raise a red flag.  Education, respectfully presented at the appropriate level, is just what women – and men – need to feel so that you deserve their trust.

It’s OK to “fire” a toxic customer.  But it’s just good business to make sure you don’t have processes that allow an otherwise good customer relationship to become poisoned.

Perception really is Reality.


Lance Boldt is Vice President and Co-Founder of AutoNetTV.  AutoNetTV’s digital signage products deliver entertaining and educational TV programming to the lobbies of automotive service and repair businesses as well as digital menu boards and automotive website video content.