Here Is A Sample From How To
Most customers will come into your store, or call you on the phone with some
kind of “personal baggage”. We are not talking about suitcases or duffel
bags, here. We are talking about needs, emotions, or issues that made the call
or visit necessary in the first place. It is important that we identify this
“baggage” when dealing with the customer.
For the vast majority of customers, this baggage is the need for a particular
product or service. If your car doesn’t run right, you come in for a tune up.
That is your need and you have come in to address that need. Though the customer
is not going to be thrilled about paying for the tune up, there should be no
problem in fulfilling this need and creating a happy customer.
customer could have the same need, but have much different baggage. Here are a
The customer needs a tune-up because the last two mechanics did a poor
job and now he is coming to you. He will be somewhat frustrated and annoyed
because of the time required to resolve the problem and also due to the expense
of having poor work done before. He may still be in a neutral state but will
probably be a little on the negative said because of past experiences.
The customer needs a tune-up because YOUR shop didn’t do the job
correctly last time. Depending on how the situation went during the firs visit,
and how you handle it now, the customer will be slightly or extremely negative.
The customer is here for a tune-up because the last time he brought it in
you didn’t get to their car like you promised. Because of the negative
experience, your customer will be somewhat negative to start.
The customer is here, because this is the fifth time he has brought the
car in and you still have not fixed his car and got it to run properly. In this
case, the customer will be in a very negative state and will require extra
attention and special treatment.
Here we have the same customer with 4 different situations all revolving around
getting a tune-up for his or her car. Same customer, same need, but with greatly
different situations and baggage.
How Do You Deal With Personal Baggage?
The single most effective way to deal with emotional baggage is to ask questions
and obtain information. Today we have the advantage of having computer systems
to hold past history of purchases or services for that customer. Make it
standard procedure to always look up past history when dealing with a customer.
(I do not suggest this for retail sales. This would cause a huge line at the
register or check out line! I do suggest this for any service related business
such as auto repair, electronic repair, etc. Past history in these cases can
help a technician or mechanic make a more accurate diagnosis or help in
determining what the best course of action is.)
Looking up past history can give you insight into what the customer has
purchased in the past and what problem he may be having. For example, if he has
come in with a problem pertaining to a product he has had problems with in the
past; this would be an indicator that this customer requires some special
treatment at this time. Saying something like; “This is the fourth time this
has been brought in for the same problem. I think we should give you a
replacement instead of another repair.” This not only addresses the problem
but also diffuses the situation immediately and makes the customer felt that you
care about his problems.
In cases, where there are repeated problems with the same product, looking up
past history can also give you insight into something the customer could be
doing wrong which is causing the problem. In these cases, you could say
something like; “This is the fifth time the handle has broken. Most of the
time this is due to no fully closing the cover before trying to lock it. This is
a common problem so I try to make people aware so they are not inconvenienced
any more.” This lets the customer know they might be doing something wrong and
gave them the information they need to address the problem. Also, note that the
person did not say, “You broke the handle 5 times.” By not blaming the
customer directly, we have saved the relationship between the store and the
customer. It’s not about being right; It’s about keeping the customer.
Later we will go into detail about the importance of getting information and
asking questions. For now, just remember that having information about the
history of the customer, whether by asking the customer or viewing it on a
computer screen is extremely important in knowing how to speak to a customer and
properly address their issues.
In the examples previously given about the customer needing a tune-up, you would
know how to speak to the customer based on this information. Here are some
For the customer who had work done before at another shop, you could say: “Do
you know what they did on the vehicle. This way we won’t be charging you for
parts they replaced already and it will give our mechanic an idea of what to
check first.” This question let’s the customer know that you are trying to
help him, save him money, and address the real problem.
For the customer who had to come back because you didn’t get to his vehicle
the last time, you could say: “Mr. Smith, I know you brought this in last week
and we didn’t have time to do the work. I am going to make sure your vehicle
is next so we can you on your way as soon as possible. I apologize for last
time.” This assures the customer that there will not be a repeat of last time
and that he will have his work done today. Your apology also tells the customer
that you care and will go a long way in diffusing any anger.
For the customer who had work done by your shop and the problem remains, you
could say: “Mr. Smith, I know you had your car in last week for the same
problem. Is it doing the same thing again or are there any changes? I’ll
assign this to a lead mechanic to make sure that we thoroughly check out the
vehicle so you wont have the problem again.” This tells the customer that you
are taking his request seriously and identifies the steps you are taking to make
sure the problem doesn’t keep happening again.
thought regarding personal baggage. The longer the baggage is allowed to remain,
the longer it will take to change it. This is both good and bad.
The good part is that if a customer has purchased a product or service from you
ten times with no problems, he is likely to keep on purchasing from you after a
problem if you handle it right. No one expects perfection and the vast majority
of people understand that people and products are not perfect. As long as the
problem is resolved in a satisfactory manner, their feelings for you and your
business will remain positive.
The bad part is that once a customer has negative feelings about you or your
company, it will take multiple good experiences before the customer will regain
a comfort level with you. It may take 5 – 10 future purchases with no problems
before you customer starts to feel secure in you and your company. That is why
we must focus efforts and resources to identify problems and address them in a
proactive manner. The more negative baggage a customer develops, the more effort
and resources are required to resolve the problem and keep them as customers.