How To Serve An Angry Auto Transport Customer

 

How To Serve An Angry Auto Transport Customer

Truthful, Quality Service Is Not Enough Sometimes…
 
Be nice, play fair
 
My mom taught me to tell the truth and be nice. She always told me that if I did something wrong but I told the truth I would not get into trouble. Why is it in business when you tell the truth and be nice people often times think you are lying?
 
A few years back one of our auto transport orders proved my mom wrong. Being a new broker, I had not quite experienced all that the industry had to offer. People's personalities can surprise you most of the time; with this transport, it sure did.
 
Do your best to look past the individual
 
Emotions run high when there is a tragedy in a family. I have always tried to remember to treat others, as I would want to be treated. Sometimes though you have to be like Sherlock Holmes and investigate what people really mean by what they are saying.
 
This particular customer was at her mother's home in another state. Sadly, her mother had passed away suddenly which sent her daughter into a downward spiral emotionally. Rightly, so the daughter was distraught. Dealing with her mom's death, a stepfather she did not care for and the estate was more than the poor girl could deal with.
 
By the time, she called our office to get a free quote she was frantic. She had inherited her mom's cars and needed to get them back to her home. She barked orders and demanded white glove service. Unfortunately, to meet her needs demanded a higher shipping rate that she did not want to pay.
 
Explaining what each service provided, working up a free quote for each service we tried to go beyond to serve her car shipping needs. After a lengthy discussion, she decided on the level of service called door-to-door service on an open carrier.
 
We secured all of the logistical information for the auto transport and went right to work on her file. In our office, we jokingly refer to it as "dialing for dollars". This came about because we do not earn our scheduling fee until we have secured a contract with a dependable auto shipper, otherwise known as a car-hauler.
 
It was a few days later that we were able to contact our customer and let her know when the cars would be picked up. She must have had a bad day because her words were like red-hot daggers. I tried to remember that her mother had just passed away and her mental state was fragile. However, that does not give anyone the license to be hateful and rude to someone trying to serve his or her needs, does it?
 
Doing my best to remain calm and not allow her attitude to rub off on me I took a deep breath. Okay…a few deep breaths. Her cursing and ranting was getting the best of me, each phone call from her was like the FBI interrogating me.
 
Finally, with one final deep breath I explained that the driver would call her to schedule the pickup. We advised her to have the cars ready for shipping by the following morning.
 
Thinking that the worst was behind us we noted in the file that the driver had called. We request drivers to confirm they have picked up the cars and are en-route to the delivery destination. This assures our clients receive quality service.
 
Two days later, we expected a phone call from the driver advising delivery of the cars. Instead, the phone call was from our customer. Her demeanor had not changed since our last phone conversation. In fact, she was even angrier.
 
The driver had arrived ahead of schedule. Normally our auto transport customers are elated when their cars arrive early. Instead, this customer was angry that her cars arrived before she did. This was an inconvenience for her and her plans.
 
Without skipping a beat, the war broke out. She was ranting and raving not allowing me to get a word in edgewise. Trying to explain that auto transport is not an exact science was something she did not want to hear. Her focus was getting her way, period.
 
Normally an auto transport broker does not get involved in the delivery process. However, when there is a problem we do our best to mediate between the customer and driver. We want all parties involved to have a pleasant experience.
 
The last straw
 
Finally, I had had enough. Placing the call on hold, I sat on the floor and cried my eyes out. This transaction had chewed up hours of my time and taken me away from our other paying clients and their transports.
 
Frustrated tremendously I just wanted this customer to be happy. To assist the car-hauler we tried to calm the customer down by talking her through the process one more time. This spoiled rotten little brat, (yes I said that), was making everyone around her, including me NUTS!
 
After I had regained my composure, I reconnected the phone call. It was time I took control and kindly put her in her place. Once again, I explained the process and that by her being uncooperative she was making matters worse for herself.
 
After thirty minutes on the phone with a screaming, frantic, out of control client we were able to resolve both the driver and her issues. I will NEVER forget this one auto transport customer.
 
If I learned anything from serving, someone so hateful and full of anger it was this ~ kindness will prevail over time. When I interrupted her ranting and composed myself, it gave me time to think through the solution. This way she did not coax me into a fight.
 
Note to self – lesson is
 
It is not always easy to serve all auto transport customers. However, there are parts of life's journey that challenge us just as much as other people do. The solution is to be confident in your ability, skill and self to provide your service to all personalities ~ weak, strong, nice and nasty. Being able to love all of your customers is the sign of a true servant.
 
Join us won't you? We need your help to spread the word about these lessons. If you have learned anything at all from our story, send a tweet to your Twitter friends; drop a short post to your FaceBook friends. You can bet they will enjoy and learn right beside you;)

Here to Serve,

Carla J Gardiner

Carla J Gardiner is an ex-banker turned entrepreneur who built an auto transport brokerage and dispatch center from the ground up. With half a days training and little else Carla learned the business inside and out the hard way…by doing it. Her passion and purpose lies with the people she works with daily; the client, dispatcher, broker and truck driver. Her frustration within the industry has birthed a new division of her company; one to properly train, encourage and mentor other professionals in auto transport.
 
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  • Denny

    Great advice Carla!

    • admin

      Thanks, Denny. Appreciate you!

  • Jeannette

    Carla, great ideas for handling any angry customer.

    • admin

      Thanks, Jeannette. It does apply to all customers. Sometimes it is not so easy to deal with situations like this one. But, we need to rise above the emotion and deal head on with them as we would want to be dealt with…kindness and professionalism.

  • Rachelle

    This really applies to anyone who has customers. -and for all of us who are customers.
    I like how you handled this hostile customer, Carla.

    • admin

      Thanks, Rachelle. Being able to cope and deal with hostile customers is only the result of many years of solid, personal growth and business training. Trust me, the old Carla would have handled it altogether differently:)

  • Carla, great post. Being here in Customer Service business we try to do our best we can live; however there are few “weedy” customers who can’t understand how we operate even after years. I enjoy however conflict resolution and feel sometimes in personal life being a consumer advocate is easy without fueled anger so all win. There are however the exceptions.

    • admin

      Thanks, Carol. I agree about the “weedy” customers. They have been few and far between, thank goodness. It really takes a tremendous amount of energy to maintain your composure and keep your cool, especially while in the heat of the transaction. Thank goodness for personal growth training and on the job business training…without either one this would have turned out much differently.

  • Great article on providing quality customer service… no matter what!;-)

  • Scott Hay

    Having worked in a customer service environment since I was 16 I am absolutely passionate about customer service. Great article.

    • admin

      Thank you Scott. Wow, you have been serving others for a long time, too! I’m not sure what it is about customer service, but it certainly makes my day when customers go away happy and readily send others back for the same experience they just had:)

  • Carla, what did I think? I think you were awesome until about the third call. By then, losing a parent or not, no one as the right to talk to anyone that way. I have learned from working years in unemployment insurance that I am never paid enough money to listen to it. I would have hung up sooner! 😀 Anger and abusive speech should never be rewarded. You were amazing!

    • admin

      Thank you Elvie. Honestly though it was a difficult situation for me to handle. I was and am thankful for the “hold” button on the phone. Anytime a call gets out of control, or I need to think through a circumstance to alter a decision out of the norm, the call goes on hold. Then I am able to retain my professionalism and deliver the kind of customer service we want to be known for.

  • Great post Carla! Your patience and persistence went above and beyond in this case. Amazing 🙂

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