Car Dealers are in the customer service business. As with any such enterprise, customer feedback is a vital tool in driving improvement and customer retention.

Unfortunately for our egos, our greatest source of feedback is via complaints. On the bright side, complaints clearly highlight areas in which we need work, but on the other hand, no-one really enjoys criticism.

What do you think is the biggest complaint customers have about car Dealers? If you said ‘failure to find the fault’, you’re right! A UK survey of more than 60,000 motorists has found that a third of drivers rate franchised Dealers’ inability to work out what is wrong with their car as their number one complaint about Dealers.
Next on the list was unanswered phone calls, nominated by 28 per cent of respondents as their biggest beef with Dealers.

The Driver Power 2015 study rated 31 Dealer networks, with fault-finding being the major issue for 22 of them. Other common complaints were discourteous staff, cars being left dirty and unexplained charges.

Just over 20 per cent of the 61,000 drivers surveyed said their Dealer had given them cause for complaint, and only 30 per cent of these people were satisfied with the response.

The good news is nearly four in five drivers said they had not had reason to complain. But 20 per cent is still a large number of dissatisfied customers, especially when 70 per cent of that 20 per cent do not feel their issue is dealt with adequately. That’s 14 per cent of all Dealership clientele who not only have a complaint but are unhappy with Dealers’ response to it.

Then there’s this stat: for every customer complaint there are 26 other unhappy customers who remain silent (Lee Resource). Or this one: 96 per cent of unhappy customers don’t complain, but 91 per cent of these leave and never return (1Financial Training Services). Or this: a dissatisfied customer will tell between 9-15 people about their experience, with 13 per cent telling more than 20 people. Happy customers who have their issue resolved will tell 4-6 people (White House Office of Consumer Affairs).

Statistic after statistic shows that it pays to treat your customers’ concerns seriously and make your best effort to resolve them. A two per cent increase in customer retention has the same effect as decreasing costs by 10 per cent (E.Murphy & M.Murphy). Fifty-five per cent of customers would pay extra to guarantee better service (Defaqto Research). Seventy per cent of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated (McKinsey). A customer is four times more likely to defect to a competitor over a service-related problem than if it were about price or product (Bain & Company). It takes 12 positive experiences to undo the harm done by one unresolved negative experience (Newell-Legner).

A global satisfaction survey conducted by Accenture found that poor customer service, not price, is the main driver of customer churn. The best customer is the one you already have, as shown by figures that say the chances of selling to an existing customer are between 60-70 per cent, while for a new prospect the odds are between 5-20 per cent (Marketing Metrics).

On the face of it these are not great figures; however, they do represent an opportunity to set yourself apart from the pack. If you can be in that 30 per cent of Dealers who deal successfully with complaints, you automatically put yourself well ahead of most of your competition. If you invest in quality service personnel you stand a great chance of resolving the biggest issue your customers have with you.

And make sure you answer the phones! It is practically criminal neglicence to have customers – with all the choice available to them in the modern marketplace – calling you and not being able to get through. That is like hanging a sign on your door saying, “Meh. Whatever”. It does not inspire confidence or convey the impression that you are eager to attend to your customers’ needs – which you should be!

You’re in the customer service business. Serve your customers well and they will return the favour.

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