Got Bad Service? Deal with It

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A few weeks ago, I sold my motorcycle. The buyer had seen private-party financing advertised by the maker, and called about financing a small amount through the dealership. He was pre-qualified and ready to close the transaction, so we arranged to meet at the dealership one Saturday morning.

When we arrived at the dealership (the same dealership I bought my motorcycle from), the finance manager was immediately rude to us, and tried to reschedule the meeting, even though the buyer had driven almost 200 miles to meet me there. They were apparently having some sort of event at the dealership that day, and he did not want to be inconvenienced. When we persisted, he reluctantly proceeded with the paperwork (or more accurately, he made a colleague proceed with the paperwork). In the end, the buyer paid almost $1,000 in fees for a $3,000 loan. We signed all the paperwork and I handed over the keys, thinking I was done with the transaction.

Fast forward to last week … and another manager at the dealership leaves a message informing me that I need to drive to the dealership to sign over the title, even though I signed a power of attorney giving them the authority to change the title on my behalf. When I return his call, he tells me that the document I signed was incorrect, and they need me to physically sign over the title. The dealership is 45 minutes away from my office, so when I tell the manager I’m unsure when I’ll be in the area next, he immediately gives me attitude, claiming, “We did you a favor by doing this deal.” He then proceeds to threaten me with what “might happen” if I don’t sign over the title quickly.

Both managers I dealt with at the dealership were rude and ungrateful for our business, and were only concerned about being inconvenienced. I was livid. I allowed myself 30 minutes to calm down, and then called the general manager at the dealership to tell him the story in its entirety. He was kind, understanding, and quickly offered several potential solutions to the problem. Even though he apologized for their behavior, I informed him that I would never shop for a motorcycle there again—they had lost me as a customer.

Every Employee Has Power

It only takes one employee to turn a good experience into a bad one. It only takes one bad situation to force a loyal customer to look to your competitors. Every employee has the power to build or destroy customer relationships.

Deal with Employee Issues

I’m certain that my altercations with each manager were not the first they’ve had with customers. In fact, when I told the general manager who I had problems with, he immediately changed his tone and started apologizing—as if he’d been there before.

Disgruntled customers are a way of life; it’s impossible to make everyone happy. But when you receive multiple complaints about an employee, you need to investigate and take action if necessary. If I knew the two rogue employees were going to be dealt with, I might consider shopping there again in the future.

Ask for Customer Feedback

Not everyone will call you to complain about a bad experience. In fact, most customers who have a bad experience will just never come back. That’s why it’s so important to ask your customers for their feedback. Whether it’s a phone call, online survey, or a card you send in the mail, ask your customers for their honest feedback.

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Brandon EleyBrandon Eley
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Brandon Eley is the Interactive Director for Kelsey Advertising & Design and the co-author of Online Marketing Inside Out.

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