Issue Date: Service Advisor May 15, 2008, Posted On: 5/15/2008
The "Hostility Diffusion Matrix" Tips for handling angry customers on the service drive No matter how hard you try, at some point in your career as a service advisor, and usually fairly often, you will come face-to-face with an angry or openly hostile customer on the service drive.
An angry customer on the service drive is one of the most dreaded moments in a service advisor's week. You are not alone. No customer service professional is immune to angry customers no matter how hard they try. Sooner or later a customer will get upset. What do you do?
Try the Hostility Diffusion Matrix: Step One: First, do no harm. This is the medical profession's dictum and means don't make a bad situation worse. Don't fight back. Fighting back fuels the emotion and makes matters worse.
Step Two: Allow the customer to vent. Nothing will be resolved while the customer is worked up. Allowing the customer to "get it off his chest" will help to dissipate the negative emotions.
Step Three: Ask questions and listen to the answers. Get the customer to describe in her own words what happened. Keep asking questions until you have a good understanding of the problem or complaint. Take some notes.
Step Four: Change locations and enlist an ally. This private conversation should not take place in front of other customers or employees. Suggest to your customer that you both move to an office or other private area and sit down. It can also help to bring in the service manager to demonstrate that you take the complaint seriously.
Step Five: Propose a solution. Keep it positive. Tell the customer what you can do, not what you can't do.
Step Six: Gain agreement on a course of action.
Step Seven: Repeat the solution you have both just agreed to.
Step Eight: Walk the customer to his or her vehicle and offer a cordial good-bye.
Step Nine: Follow-up with a phone call or e-mail to make sure the issue has been resolved.
Above all, listen. Once your customer has calmed down, you can resolve the problem. All it takes is a little understanding and you might be able to turn an angry customer into a customer forever.