White Keyboard Positive, Neutral And Negative“Ugh, what a terrible customer.”

“That customer was a psycho.”

“I lost your business? Good.”

There’s no bigger loss in our business than a wasted sales opportunity — particularly when that opportunity comes at the expense of potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in future sales. We all know that word of mouth sells cars — but can that one pesky customer actually cost you sales?

Particularly if your dealership is part of a smaller community, you bet they can.

People aren’t always married to brand — and if they are looking for a specific model, they probably have more options than your dealership, even if that means driving 50 miles outside of town. An hour one way isn’t too far for many people when they’re about to make a significant financial investment like purchasing a car.

We work with many dealerships who take the opportunity daily to “cleanse” Facebook and Twitter comments of any negative publicity. In most cases a bad Facebook or Yelp review can’t be removed, so all your data appears incongruous. Meaning, you have these terrific Facebook comments and all these positive responses to your posts, set up with a bunch of crappy and negative reviews that you haven’t responded to.

So here’s the thing — people aren’t looking for perfection. Especially buyers. They want the most positive experience possible, it’s true, but there could always be hassles and issues. What customers are looking for from you is a reassurance they will be taken care of.  Accidents, problems and issues are going to happen. It’s a part of the human experience. But when interested customers see you actively trying to get rid of any negative publicity about your dealership, they see you trying to cover up something. They see that it’s better for you to be dishonest and present a halfway picture of the truth rather than demonstrating your customer service skills in action.

We can all learn something from an unhappy customer — because after all, an unhappy customer is better than a lost one. Every negative review or piece of feedback is an opportunity to put your stellar customer service skills to work in front of potential future customers. Trust begins even before the sale starts — these days, the research phase is where customers are really getting to know you and what you have to offer. If you’re not ready on the other side of the deal to make things right, your potential customers could see that feedback on the other side and cut you off quickly. Honestly is always the best policy.