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Critical event recording: Dos and Don’ts

Lucas Deal July 17, 2014

Nobody wants a customer conflict, but they happen. To all of us.

And when they do, things can get ugly. Fast.

The September issue of Truck Parts & Service will cover these events in great detail with articles on conflict resolution and critical event (i.e. conflict) recording.

RELATED: Handling callbacks and service failures.

But before those stories hit your desks, we thought we’d give you a little preview. Below are three “Dos and Don’ts” of critical event recording.

DO

Listen: You can’t take good notes if you aren’t a good listener. And listening is incredibly important in a crisis when the stakes are high and customers are mad. Before a customer even calls to complain, you have to make sure your team knows how to listen.

Be concise: You don’t have to be a stenographer to take good notes during a conflict. Bullet points are fine. The important thing is to make sure you know exactly why a customer called and what they expect from you (your business). Besides, trying to write down every word a customer says is cumbersome. That’s how you fall behind and stop listening.

Follow up: Use your notes to send your customer updates on their situation. After your first discussion, email them your notes asking them to confirm what you’ve recorded. Every time you update them via phone, also send them an updated document showing the additional step you’ve made toward a resolution. More than anything else, a customer who complains wants to know you’re going to make things right. Being active shows them that.

DON’T

Get angry: This applies for person-to-person conversations and your notes. The customer isn’t mad at you, they are mad at the situation. Don’t neglect to write down a complaint because you don’t believe it or question its validity. Be an impartial observer. Note everything that matters, and worry about verifying what is true later.

RELATED: How to stop worrying and build a crisis management plan.

Overlook small interaction: Everything needs to be documented. Even a two-minute call. A customer who calls five times in two days is probably really dependent on his downed truck. But if you don’t record those calls, your employees might view him the same way they view a customer who hasn’t called in weeks.

Immediately discount: This is more a conflict resolution tip but it’s still valid here. Don’t immediately resort to discounts to alleviate conflict. That might make some customers happy, but not everyone. When you offer a discount up front, you make no effort to find the root of your customer’s problem. You make no effort to reduce the likelihood of something bad happening again. And if you discount without even writing down why they complained? That’s even worse. Then you know nothing and you’ve reduced your profits.

Lucas Deal is the editor of Truck Parts & Service and Successful Dealer. He can be reached at lucasdeal@randallreilly.com.

You can follow me on twitter at @lddeal85

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