In The Trenches

It’s the least I can do.

Published on June 11, 2018 Back to blog
Car Dashboard with Check Engine Light On

A few weeks ago, while driving home from the dealership that just did a routine service on my car, my “check engine” light went on. So, I immediately called them. They told me that the technicians probably just forgot to reset the engine light, and instructed me to bring the car back so they could do so. However, this was the second time in a row that they seemingly forgot to do something. (After the last service, which included “top-off of all fluids,” I discovered that I had no windshield wiper fluid.) I was frustrated – and questioning whether they even conducted the services I paid for (either time). 

Now, the last thing I wanted to do was drive back to the dealership, so I requested that they come to my house to deal with the issue – they could even just take my car in exchange for a loaner if they needed to work on it at the shop. They refused. So, I begrudgingly went back and, after further inspection, they determined that a sensor was malfunctioning. The Service Manager told me that they will replace it at no charge. “It’s the least I can do,” he told me.

The LEAST you can do?!?!?!?!?

As someone in the service industry, this was perhaps one of the worst things I could hear. I’m not interested in the least you can do. I prefer the most you can do. So, from one service professional to another (I believe a few people from my dealership get these blogs) – and for everyone else who is in a service industry (aren’t we all to some extent?) – I thought I’d share a few pointers on how to go beyond “the least you can do.”

  1. Accept responsibility. While there are almost always reasons (or excuses), this is not the time for them. The fact is that the customer didn’t get what they expected. This doesn’t mean that the customer is 100% right, but it is likely that you (or your organization) contributed to the upset in some way – even if it was just poor expectation setting. 
  2. Act quickly.  The moment you see there is a problem, get in front of it. Even if you can’t solve it right away, acknowledge it immediately and let the customer know that you will work to address it. 
  3. Ask what they’d like you to do. Don’t assume that your solution is the best possible solution. Ask how you can make it right. Of course, there are limits to the “most you can do” but, generally speaking, people are reasonable when you show that you care. 
  4. Go above and beyond. Often times, you can even do more than what the customer asks. If you can, do it. When issues are handled poorly, they can kill relationships. But, when handled with excellence, they can make them much stronger.  
  5. Follow Up. Once the immediate issue is resolved and everyone is calm (and hopefully happy), be sure to follow up to identify the root cause(s) of the issue, and determine how best to avoid them from happening again (with them and other customers).

If the dealership followed all of these rules, I’d likely be going back there soon to look for a new car. (Mine is now 8+ years old, and my wife tells me that it’s time…). But, instead, I’ll definitely be going elsewhere. I hope that doesn’t happen with your customers and that these tips help you build stronger relationships with them. It’s the least I can do. (That was a joke.) 🙂

Have a great day!

Jeff Freedman
CEO/Managing Partner
Small Army | Finn Partners