One of the universal truths of operating a business is that you will inevitably run into the occasional unhappy customer. But that doesn’t mean that the customer needs to stay unhappy—the way you handle these situations makes all of the difference.
In a parking garage, there are a few reasons customers could be dissatisfied. For example, they expected to pay a lower price compared to what was actually paid, they believe that their car was damaged in the garage by your valet staff, or your garage closed before they could get their car out. Handling these kinds of situations professionally and empathetically is the best way to turn an unhappy customer into a satisfied one.
Internally Handle the Situation
It’s important for your employees to remember to not feel personally attacked by a customer complaint. Many times, customers are frustrated and just need to vent to someone about their problem. Their complaint can possibly seem personal, considering their heated language, but they really just need someone who’s willing to listen.
With that in mind, as hard as it may seem, don’t get defensive with a customer, as that can escalate the situation. Remember that you are just the landing point for their complaint; actively listening to them and showing empathy is what the customer is looking for.
Calm the Situation
There are two general ways to help de-escalate these types of situations: by actively listening and showing empathy.
Upset customers want to know that you care about their problem and that you are listening well enough to understand how to fix it. Look them in the eye and be conscious of your body language. Once they’ve finished talking, be sure to repeat back to them what their problem is. This proves to them that you were listening and clearly understand the issue. Then, explain to them why certain policies and procedures are in place, which can help them understand why this confusion is happening in the first place. Keep body language to a minimum and be careful not to sound condescending or passive-aggressive with your response, as you don’t want them to take anything personally either.
What You Can Do to Prevent These Situations
As mentioned above, you may not be able to prevent every single situation that causes a dissatisfied customer. However, the more preventive measures you take, the better your chances will be.
Upgrading your garage’s technology is a plus, and automated ticketing can move things faster and simplify the process. However, keep in mind that the more complicated the technology, the better the instructions need to be. Upgraded technology can backfire in the sense that a customer can become confused and/or frustrated with the system and not have anyone to speak with on how to handle it. Make sure to give the most simplified step-by-step guide to help your customers avoid unpleasant surprises.
Furthermore, if you have cashiers who handle tickets, remind them to keep their conversations with customers light and positive. Ticket handlers are helpful when a customer has an issue and needs to ask a question, but humans sometimes make mistakes—after all, they’re human! If your cashiers are having a bad day and that unintentionally bleeds into their conversation with the customer, that can cause some discomfort as well.
Sometimes, things happen that are out of our control. While we can’t always prevent them, we can handle the aftermath professionally.
We remember a specific situation when a family using a 12-person passenger van entered a garage that had higher parking fees for commercial vehicles. Because they were a family, they believed they’d pay the lower, non-commercial rate. However, they used the commercial vehicle section of the garage, so they had to pay the higher per hour fee.
As you can imagine, they were very unhappy with this mixup, and the best we could do was actively listen, be empathetic to their situation, and lower their fee for the day, but also explain to them why the fee was higher for the larger van. They left knowing that next time, they’d have to pay a higher fee, but they were satisfied with how we handled the confusion—and would return to the garage in the future.
Contact us to learn more about improving customer service and handling tough situations in your garage.