If you hold a management position in the retail automotive industry, you’ve probably had a customer attempt to leverage something to get what they want. Whether it was an unreasonable request, or simply a last-ditch effort to get a perceived wrong made right, many of you will have run into this situation.

In the past, a customer’s leverage was typically the impact a poor survey would bring to the dealership. And this is something customers still threaten if they feel there is no other avenue of recourse. Of course, today’s consumers are much wiser to the power of a poor CSI survey, especially when most dealerships continually reinforce the importance of “perfect” survey results.

Today, there are many other channels for consumers to vent their displeasure and leverage to get what they want. But, other than the odd customer that uses these tactics malevolently, what about those who simply seek customer service to fix a simple issue? Perhaps they had a bad experience, a promise was unfulfilled, or work was incomplete or poorly executed. Maybe they attempted to reach the dealership by calling, emailing, or visited the dealership in person to get their problem solved directly, but were unsuccessful.

Well, according to an article in Forbes, businesses are inadvertently telling consumers that going directly to the business to solve customer service issues isn’t effective. Because, when they do, the business either fails to pay attention or prioritizes their complaints lower than it should. However, when a customer threatens to trash a CSI survey or to post bad reviews in every place possible, the company will suddenly pay attention and give the customer the attention they demand.

A more recent article on TechBullion covers how we now have to fight on two fronts, in both a proactive and reactionary manner. It outlines how reputation management is now more of a long-term play and instead of expecting instant removal of negative comments, it pays to market your business in a positive manner and identify and fix any problem areas customers may have.

The perfect storm of technology that amplifies the consumer voice through social media and review sites has taught businesses to pay attention to those sites. At the same time, consumers have caught on that these venues are effective to get attention for their complaints.

What is the solution? The best policy is to pay attention to customers through all channels and work to rectify customer complaints no matter when or where they happen.

In this age of customer experience, customer service and satisfaction are more important than ever. We can no longer afford to ignore, procrastinate over or neglect any customer’s concerns.

 People have a lot of choices when it comes to who they chose to do business with. It makes sense to ensure the customer is king – to handle all customer service issues and complaints just as promptly and with as much enthusiasm as you would if they threatened a poor CSI survey or posted a negative review. A reactionary customer service strategy is probably not the best policy.

 Once consumers realize that they do not need to resort to strong-arm tactics to get you to care, they will believe that you do. And that’s how relationships stay strong and businesses flourish.

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