Dealer Insights - September/October 2013 - 4 Tips For Turning Around Factory Mistakes

When customers buy a new vehicle and discover a defect, they usually aren’t happy campers. It doesn’t matter if the flaw is the result of a mistake made at the factory — it’s your doorstep that the customer will end up on, inconvenienced and possibly irate, expecting a satisfactory solution.

This is a pivotal point in the customer relationship. How you handle the situation might be the difference between saving — or even strengthening — the relationship and losing the customer for life. Here are four tips for turning around a bad situation to your advantage:

  1. Be fast and reliable. Let your customer know that, though the problem isn’t your dealership’s fault, you’ll do everything you can to resolve the difficulty quickly. If the matter is taking a while to resolve, keep the customer updated.
    If a factory representative must handle the claim, become a facilitator. Set up the meeting between the customer and factory rep. Make sure that the customer has all the paperwork that’s needed and knows what to expect from the process.
  2. Be direct. Sometimes the problem will be the result of customer misuse or of not having followed manufacturer service recommendations. Be honest, but tactful, in letting customers know if the problem doesn’t fall within warranty requirements.
    While you want to satisfy your customer on all levels, you also represent the manufacturer. If you defend the factory in a reasonable manner, the customer may feel better informed about his or her vehicle and the situation at hand.
  3. Go the extra mile. Give the customer a ride home or arrange for a loaner if that would improve his or her experience. Also, if a pattern of factory mistakes emerges (for example, inside door handles on a particular model become loose after about six months), be proactive and have your service department check for such flaws when these vehicles are in the shop for routine checks. Spare your customers the inconvenience of coming in for a special visit. 
  4. Remember, it all matters. In years past, if a customer had a problem resolving a factory mistake, he or she might grumble about your dealership to family and a few friends. Today, online consumer reviews are so pervasive, and so easy to write, that word of your customer’s misfortune might spread to thousands lickety-split. It’s critical to handle all factory mistakes with care.

Dealer Insights - September/October 2013 Issue 

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