The customer isn't always right, Part 2

I’ve gotten some responses from my blog on Monday about misbehaving customers.

One commenter, a fixed-ops manager from Tennessee, recalled numerous incidents of threats and physical violence from customers against dealership employees in his 34 years in the business.

Some involved serious weapons -- guns and knives. He has seen customers so out of control that police had to be called to remove them from the premises.

Confrontations would arise when dealing with customers returning abused loaner cars or people who didn’t want to hear that the problem with their car wasn’t a defect covered by warranty.

His solution? Invite them in your office to talk. Let them vent and give them your undivided attention. Don’t interrupt. As long as they don’t personally abuse you, it usually turns out OK.

“Customers that you turn around like this very often become great customers,” he said.

Of course, that doesn’t work with everyone. He recalled working for one dealer who made a list of the unruly customers who were continual problems. It had just eight names on it, and the dealer decided to “fire” them all. Life at the dealership went from hell to wonderful.

The fixed-ops manager makes an important point: 95 to 98 percent of customers are reasonable and great to work with. Those people keep him in the business.

So, yes, the tough customers are certainly memorable -- but at least they are few and far between.