My regular readers know that I’m a car dealer and that, for many years, I’ve required all my employees to follow the Earl Stewart Code. This has served my customers, employees, and my business very well. Not only do we feel better about what we do for a living, but we’ve found that our customers like it so much that they come back repeatedly to do business with us. For the purposes of this article, I’m renaming “The Earl Stewart Code”, “The Car Buyers’ Bill of Rights”. Try showing this to your car dealer and find out what he thinks.
(1) Do whatever the customer asks if they believe they’re right. If the customer believes they're right, and you don’t take the action they ask, that angry customer will tell dozens of others, and they will probably believe the customer. This is a domino effect that will ultimately cost the dealership more in lost business than the cost of satisfying the customer immediately.
(2) Do what is right for the customer even if you don’t have to. Do what is right for the customer whether or not it’s required by law or contract. Choose the path that is, not only legal, but ethical and moral.
(3) If your supervisor isn’t available, do what is right for the customer. Nothing frustrates a customer more than not being able to bring their complaint to someone who can take the required action. Your supervisor should empower you to act when they can’t.
(4) Always answer all phone calls, emails, texts, and letters ASAP. There’s not much that frustrates anyone more than when they don’t, in a reasonable amount of time, receive a return call, text, or email. If you’re too busy, at least let the customer know that you understand their complaint and will act ASAP.
(5) Customers must always be treated with respect and courtesy. You can do everything else right with a customer, but if you show any signs of discourtesy, impatience, or lack of respect, you’ll lose that customer.
(6) ALWAYS tell the customer the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. If you make a mistake, your company will likely give you a second chance, but NOT for being dishonest.
(7) Your first loyalty is to the customer, not your dealership or the manufacturer. If your company or their manufacturer suggests that you act in some fashion that you know isn’t right and in the best interest of the customer, ignore your company or manufacturer and do what is right for the customer. You might also have to find a different company to work for, but that’s a good thing in the long run.
(8) Personally, take ownership of a customer’s problem. Even if satisfying a customer means that action must be taken by others or even another department from yours, you owe it to the customer to be sure they're happy in the end.
(9) Promise your customer less that you deliver. Under-promising and over-delivering is a sure way to keep a customer and have that customer send you more customers.
(10) Trust your as much as you hope they will trust you and your dealership. Trusting someone you don’t know can be dangerous, and you will occasionally be taken advantage of. But customers can sense that you trust them and that will inspire them to reciprocate.