I recently read Mike Murdock’s book, “The Uncommon Leader”. He had an interesting read for business owners regarding listening to customer complaints. “Listen to your clients, they will tell you the problems that need solving.” Profound actually. To identify real problems in a business, and to solve these problems is crucial for success. Some have made a very lucrative career of offering this service to entrepreneurs. But if you have ears to hear, your clients will provide this service for free.
Now criticism is never sweet. It is hard to learn lessons from our critics. Who likes correction? I know that I easily look for reasons to neutralize a complaint. Will I apologize and be empathetic? Yes, but to really own it? That’s hard. Even painful. Yet this is essential to grow beyond our blind spots. When customers are ringing the same bell over and over, it is time to prepare the dinner table for change.
Complaints from our clients about being charged for damage unfairly were increasing. I honestly could not “hear” the complaints initially. I set up the damage check system myself, with the best intention to be fair and accurate. I was therefore viewing the complaints through this lens of my good intention and belief that I had drawn the plumb line fairly and accurately. It took me awhile to realize, “We have a problem. We need to change”. I had to re-evaluate. So, we began to listen and look into the mirror of complaint.
What did we see? Although we had trained our staff well, there still remained so many variable factors that influenced their judgement, causing them to agree on average 95% of the time. This 5% discrepancy was our problem. For instance when Fani, one of our front desk champions, signs out a vehicle to a client, he deems a certain small scratch as insignificant and does not note it on the damage check. On the other hand Darren, on the return of the vehicle welcomes the customers back and possibly interprets this certain ‘small scratch’ as new damage and chargeable. This is where our system was failing us.
We troubleshot, debated and wrestled until a viable solution began to surface. Create a system that is lenient enough to compensate for the 5% discrepancy factor. We created a broader, more client-friendly free damage waiver. We no longer will charge for light scratches and impression dents which were often the areas of contention. We felt so good about our solution, we decided to thrown in free cover for all stone chips as well. The new system implemented now for 2 weeks is really working. The staff are happier. The feedback from clients has been great.
Clarity has enhanced peace of mind and restored trust and integrity to the process.
Thanks to all who contributed towards the solution.
Founder and co-owner
Rentacheapie Car Hire