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How to respond cleverly to disgruntled car wash customers?

Normally your car wash runs smoothly and there are only a few problems? That's nice. But even in the best-running car wash, errors can sometimes occur or customers are dissatisfied. For these cases, there are some simple codes of conduct that can help you turn the negative situation into a positive one. Seen from the right perspective, customer complaints are nothing more than free business advice.

1. Keep calm

People who complain are almost always upset and use a tone nobody likes to hear. Suppress the urge to be snotty. Stay calm and ask politely for details. Listen carefully and maybe even take notes. As soon as the customer feels that you are taking him seriously, their anger will already be fading. Let the customer show you any flaws or explain exactly where the service was not satisfactory.

Be sure to train your employees in dealing with dissatisfied customers! Establish rules for it. In the case of complaints about the service, employees can try to deal with them on their own with various conciliation strategies. However, as soon as there is a problem with the car wash, you yourself should be involved immediately.

2. No justifications

If a customer complains, he sees a defect. Do not try to gloss over or apologise. Under no circumstances should you put the blame on them! Accept the criticism, admit the facts, if these are correct, and apologise for the inconvenience. Always stay polite.

3. Offer compensation

Depending on why the customer complains, you can offer different forms of compensation. If there were problems with the service, you can give the customer a discount. On the other hand, if the car wash did not run satisfactorily, offer the customer, for example, a free re-wash or to pay for a wash at another station of their choice. Once you have resolved the problem that caused the unsatisfactory wash, the results will eventually be very good again - and with a bit of luck, thanks to your goodwill, you will gain a new customer.

4. Keep an eye on online complaints

Not every customer complains on site - some prefer to complain publicly on the Internet. Keep an eye on the comments section of your website and your social media accounts. Once a publicly visible complaint is made, you should respond. The same rules apply here as for the complaint made on site: accept the criticism, show understanding, apologise, and offer compensation. This will not only satisfy the disappointed customer, but also show all readers that you handle the situation professionally and value good service.

5. Follow up with an immediate review

Every complaint should lead to the washing experience becoming better for your customers. If there were problems with the washing quality, you will find out immediately what was wrong. Fix the problem and, ideally, go back to the customer who complained. Say thank you for letting you know, explain that the problem has been resolved and cordially invite them to a free wash.

If the problem was with the service, you should understand what happened. Was the customer given the wrong advice? Was there no member of the service team on site, where there should have been one? Is the latter an organisational problem or is it human error? In either case, you have to sort things out with your employees. Here, too, training and efficient personnel planning for the various jobs can help. If there are ongoing valid complaints about a particular employee, you may have to let him or her go for the good of the company.