"Are you pickles or peaches?" This is the question I asked my daughter, Briella, every morning when she was little. Most often she would say "peaches" with a smile. But one morning she said (in a very nasty tone) "pickles," meaning she was in a sour mood.
What kind of mood are you most often in? And does this affect how you treat others or what kind of customer you are? Have you ever noticed that if you have an issue with someone you get further if your approach is pleasant rather than accusatory or demanding?
There are three important characteristics of a good customer. If you learn these, you will be a more satisfied customer and happier person, even if you are having a "pickles" sort of day.
Would you say you are a good communicator? When something is unclear to you, do you ask questions? Or do you tend to keep quiet at the risk of sounding ignorant? Asking questions is an essential part of being a good communicator.
A good auto shop welcomes your questions. They would like nothing more than to help you understand something you know nothing about. On the flip side, auto shops want to know what you know. Why have you brought your vehicle to them? What are your expectations? What symptoms is your vehicle having? Effective communication leads to a good relationship, good relationships build trust and trust is key for both you and your auto-home.
Have you ever been in a situation when you know you are late in getting something done and you feel the pressure because someone is depending on you? It is in moments like that when things always seem to go wrong. We are all human beings. Therefore, we are naturally impatient with other people, yet we want others to be patient with us. Am I right? This is how I am. But I have found that the more grace I extend toward others in their moments of human error or mistakes that are out of their control, the more grace is offered to me in my difficult moments.
Auto shops make mistakes. It's as simple as that. There are things that need to come together right for your vehicle to be taken care of. First, the problem must be communicated clearly. If there is any miscommunication in this first step, something may go wrong. If the vehicle needs to be repaired, a part must be ordered. Think of all of the errors that can be made during this process - the wrong part can be ordered, the vendor could deliver a different part than what was ordered, the part could be damaged, etc. Then, the part may fix only half of the problem. The vehicle could be misdiagnosed. The technician could make a mistake in replacing the part. There are any number of mistakes that can occur in the process of your vehicle being repaired. And many times it is just as frustrating for the whole team working on your vehicle as it is for you. Your auto-home wants your vehicle repair to go smoothly from beginning to the end - but things may not go as planned. Your patience will be a blessing for all involved.
What is integrity? It is a high standard of decency, honesty and truthfulness. It is doing to others as you would want done to you. I believe integrity encompasses not only what it means to be a good person, but also what it means to be a good customer. How would you feel if someone left a negative review about you without telling you that you did something wrong? Or what if someone posted a review about you that contained false information? And because that person does not want to take ownership of his/her words, they posted the review anonymously. How would that make you feel? Don't you think that if a person is going to post a review, they should have to use their full name? If it's truth and you are proud about what you are writing, then you should stand behind it with your name. If you are embarrassed to tell the whole world it is you that is writing it, should you really be writing it in the first place?
If you owned a business, wouldn't you want to be given the benefit of the doubt? Because the auto-repair industry has a "bad-rap" for dishonesty it seems they are "guilty until proven innocent." If a mistake is made, some people jump to conclusions, assume the worst and publicly bash auto shops for ripping them off or sabotaging their vehicle … before even calling or visiting the shop. If you made a mistake, wouldn't you want the opportunity to fix it? Or if your employees messed up, wouldn't you want good feedback so your business can learn and improve?
I know many people who possess all the characteristics of a good customer. They have integrity, patience and good communication. If there is a problem, they call or visit their auto-home with good feedback. They give them the benefit of the doubt, make room for human error and enjoy the relationship they have with their auto-home because of how well they are taken care of when mistakes happen and when they don't. They treat their auto-home the same way they want to be treated and in return a great relationship develops.
The goal of a good auto shop is the same as yours - to fix your vehicle and to have a good relationship. A good auto shop will welcome feedback as it can be used to better serve customers in the future. A good auto shop has integrity, patience and good communication. They have excellent customer service and go above and beyond to take care of their customers with a desire to surpass expectations. If you are dissatisfied with your current auto-home, tell them and give them a chance to take care of you. If you are still dissatisfied, search for a new one.
You don't have to be "peaches" to be a good customer, but treating a business the way you want to be treated will be beneficial to all.
By Jeana Babcock