Here Is A Sample From How To Effectively
 Interact With All Kinds Of Customers!!


Personal Baggage


    Most customers will come into your store, or call you on the phone with some kind of “personal baggage”. We are not talking about suitcases or duffel bags, here. We are talking about needs, emotions, or issues that made the call or visit necessary in the first place. It is important that we identify this “baggage” when dealing with the customer.

     For the vast majority of customers, this baggage is the need for a particular product or service. If your car doesn’t run right, you come in for a tune up. That is your need and you have come in to address that need. Though the customer is not going to be thrilled about paying for the tune up, there should be no problem in fulfilling this need and creating a happy customer.

 This same customer could have the same need, but have much different baggage. Here are a few examples:


1)              The customer needs a tune-up because the last two mechanics did a poor job and now he is coming to you. He will be somewhat frustrated and annoyed because of the time required to resolve the problem and also due to the expense of having poor work done before. He may still be in a neutral state but will probably be a little on the negative said because of past experiences.

2)              The customer needs a tune-up because YOUR shop didn’t do the job correctly last time. Depending on how the situation went during the firs visit, and how you handle it now, the customer will be slightly or extremely negative.

3)              The customer is here for a tune-up because the last time he brought it in you didn’t get to their car like you promised. Because of the negative experience, your customer will be somewhat negative to start.

4)              The customer is here, because this is the fifth time he has brought the car in and you still have not fixed his car and got it to run properly. In this case, the customer will be in a very negative state and will require extra attention and special treatment.

     Here we have the same customer with 4 different situations all revolving around getting a tune-up for his or her car. Same customer, same need, but with greatly different situations and baggage.


How Do You Deal With Personal Baggage?


    The single most effective way to deal with emotional baggage is to ask questions and obtain information. Today we have the advantage of having computer systems to hold past history of purchases or services for that customer. Make it standard procedure to always look up past history when dealing with a customer. (I do not suggest this for retail sales. This would cause a huge line at the register or check out line! I do suggest this for any service related business such as auto repair, electronic repair, etc. Past history in these cases can help a technician or mechanic make a more accurate diagnosis or help in determining what the best course of action is.)

     Looking up past history can give you insight into what the customer has purchased in the past and what problem he may be having. For example, if he has come in with a problem pertaining to a product he has had problems with in the past; this would be an indicator that this customer requires some special treatment at this time. Saying something like; “This is the fourth time this has been brought in for the same problem. I think we should give you a replacement instead of another repair.” This not only addresses the problem but also diffuses the situation immediately and makes the customer felt that you care about his problems.

     In cases, where there are repeated problems with the same product, looking up past history can also give you insight into something the customer could be doing wrong which is causing the problem. In these cases, you could say something like; “This is the fifth time the handle has broken. Most of the time this is due to no fully closing the cover before trying to lock it. This is a common problem so I try to make people aware so they are not inconvenienced any more.” This lets the customer know they might be doing something wrong and gave them the information they need to address the problem. Also, note that the person did not say, “You broke the handle 5 times.” By not blaming the customer directly, we have saved the relationship between the store and the customer. It’s not about being right; It’s about keeping the customer.

     Later we will go into detail about the importance of getting information and asking questions. For now, just remember that having information about the history of the customer, whether by asking the customer or viewing it on a computer screen is extremely important in knowing how to speak to a customer and properly address their issues.

     In the examples previously given about the customer needing a tune-up, you would know how to speak to the customer based on this information. Here are some examples:

     For the customer who had work done before at another shop, you could say: “Do you know what they did on the vehicle. This way we won’t be charging you for parts they replaced already and it will give our mechanic an idea of what to check first.” This question let’s the customer know that you are trying to help him, save him money, and address the real problem.

     For the customer who had to come back because you didn’t get to his vehicle the last time, you could say: “Mr. Smith, I know you brought this in last week and we didn’t have time to do the work. I am going to make sure your vehicle is next so we can you on your way as soon as possible. I apologize for last time.” This assures the customer that there will not be a repeat of last time and that he will have his work done today. Your apology also tells the customer that you care and will go a long way in diffusing any anger.

     For the customer who had work done by your shop and the problem remains, you could say: “Mr. Smith, I know you had your car in last week for the same problem. Is it doing the same thing again or are there any changes? I’ll assign this to a lead mechanic to make sure that we thoroughly check out the vehicle so you wont have the problem again.” This tells the customer that you are taking his request seriously and identifies the steps you are taking to make sure the problem doesn’t keep happening again.

     One last thought regarding personal baggage. The longer the baggage is allowed to remain, the longer it will take to change it. This is both good and bad.

     The good part is that if a customer has purchased a product or service from you ten times with no problems, he is likely to keep on purchasing from you after a problem if you handle it right. No one expects perfection and the vast majority of people understand that people and products are not perfect. As long as the problem is resolved in a satisfactory manner, their feelings for you and your business will remain positive.

     The bad part is that once a customer has negative feelings about you or your company, it will take multiple good experiences before the customer will regain a comfort level with you. It may take 5 – 10 future purchases with no problems before you customer starts to feel secure in you and your company. That is why we must focus efforts and resources to identify problems and address them in a proactive manner. The more negative baggage a customer develops, the more effort and resources are required to resolve the problem and keep them as customers.

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