How to Handle Your Difficult Customers in the Shop

Customer Service Techniques for Shop Employees

All businesses have their fair share of demanding customers, and auto repair shops are no exception. Sometimes customers can be extremely difficult to talk with, especially when they are frustrated or angry. At first, you may want to kick the customer out, but with a calm mindset, anyone can diffuse the situation. There are several techniques that you can use to help the customer and show that you only have their best interest in mind.

Listen to the Customer

The most important thing you can do is listen to the customer and make sure they feel heard. You shouldn’t try to argue with the customer or talk over them. Let the customer have time to express why they are upset and try to put yourself in their shoes. While they are talking, make sure you are engaged with what they are saying and not sitting completely still or staying silent. Nodding your head to show that you are listening and making eye contact are important to show the customer you hear them.

Control Your Emotions

Don’t get angry at the customer or express that you are upset. Even if the customer is rude by swearing or attacking you personally, it is important to keep calm. Do whatever you need to do to calm yourself down before you respond to the customer. You can take deep breaths, count to 10, squeeze the stress ball on your desk — whatever it takes to get yourself in a good headspace to enter the conversation calmly.

Respond As If Other Customers are Listening

If you pretend that your other customers are listening to the situation, it can help you approach the customer from a different point of view. Sometimes you will be in a situation where you are dealing with a difficult customer while others are watching the situation unfold. But in the moments where you are one-on-one with a difficult customer, it can sometimes feel tempting to take a more aggressive approach. If you act like other people are listening to the situation, it can allow you to think more clearly and take a more diplomatic approach. Always speak with integrity!

Communicate your Solution for the Situation

After the customer has had a chance to say what is on their mind, you will need to explain what options are available to help fix the problem. It is important to explain what you will be able to do for them as well as what you won’t be able to do for them. Even if what you can do for the customer is small, make sure something is done to make the situation better. Don’t say: “I can’t do anything for you.” That will almost certainly make the situation worse. Even if all you can do is investigate the situation and gather more information, there is always something that can be done to show the customer that you care and want their problem to be solved.

Follow Up with the Customer

After you know how to remedy the situation, it is important to begin solving the problem immediately. If you can quickly address the problem, you may be able to turn the situation from a negative experience to a positive one. If you need time to look into the situation before you can offer a solution, make sure you clearly explain to the customer what your next steps will be and try to give them a timetable for when they will hear back from you. Even if you haven’t solved the problem yet, it is important to contact the customer at the time you told them you would. This will let the customer know you aren’t ignoring them, and you haven’t forgotten about them.

It’s not easy to deal with difficult customers, but you will have to deal with them if you want to run a business. Using these techniques will put you on the right track to help change the situation from a negative to a positive one!

Written by Jacob Massengill

Jacob Massengill is a Marketing Account Manager at Autoshop Solutions. He has spent most of his life working in the automotive industry and gained much experience fulfilling various roles at his father's auto repair shop in Durham, NC. He prioritizes client needs above all else and makes sure they are completely taken care of. When he’s not assisting clients with their marketing efforts, Jacob enjoys spending time with his wife, family and friends. He loves going to local sporting events to watch UNC Basketball, Durham Bulls Baseball and Carolina Hurricanes Hockey. He also enjoys nerding out and playing games with friends as well as watching Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or just about any superhero movie.

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