Service With A Smile

Customer satisfaction depends on your approach

What makes good customer service? “Providing quality service and follow-through to exceed the customer’s expectations,” says Chandler B. Lee, president and CEO of Classic Pontiac Buick GMC (No. 91 on the BE AUTO DEALER 100 list) in Hicksville, New York. But if you treat customers as if you’re doing them a favor, ability has little merit. Your attitude, more than anything else, is what really determines the level of service your patrons will receive.

On one occasion, a customer returned to Lee’s dealership with his newly purchased car after it experienced mechanical malfunctions. “The car was so problematic, his family refused to ride in it,” says Lee. The customer stormed into the showroom and angrily confronted the sales associate who closed the purchase. Rather than responding, the associate listened patiently to the customer’s grievances. Not having the necessary authority to resolve the situation, he brought it directly to Lee’s attention. “After contacting General Motors headquarters in Detroit, I was able to replace the defective car with a more efficient model — free of charge,” says Lee.

Whether you’re a sales associate or the company CEO, the more pleasant and helpful your attitude, the happier your customers — and the better your business. Not only are satisfied patrons loyal, they often recommend excellent services or goods to their friends and associates. This translates into increased exposure and, subsequently, more sales.

Even handling situations involving an angry or upset customer won’t have to be difficult if you maintain a good attitude. These two tips can help you sweeten yours:

Alter the way you see your customers. Patrons aren’t numbers to be processed. See them simply as people-then treat them as such. Establish eye contact, offer a warm greeting and address them by name. Most important, don’t forget to smile.

Keep a cool head when things get hot. Try your best to stay calm, avoid raising your voice and ask the upset patron what you can do to satisfactorily resolve the matter. If things get out of hand, call a supervisor for help. (For more on this topic, see our series on customer satisfaction, “Getting it Straight From the Best Source,” Enterprise, this issue.)

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