A guide to resolving customer complaints

How to deal with customer complaints in the motor trade

Mechanic fixing a car

Dealing with complaints is part and parcel for most dealers in the motor trade, and it can be a stressful experience for all involved. When customers lodge a complaint, they often feel frustrated, inconvenienced, or dissatisfied, and we understand that dealers are juggling a lot too, running a business, resolving issues, managing expectations, and trying to work towards solutions that make everyone happy.

What are the top customer complaints?

At First Response Finance, we have a dedicated Customer Experience Team who work closely with dealers and customers to address the Satisfactory Quality (SQ) vehicle complaints we receive.

The team has been digging into our own data to understand the common issues customers face after they have raised a SQ complaint. We believe in being open and honest with our dealer partners, so we wanted to share what the team has learned and offer some tips to our dealer partners based on their findings.

“I’m unhappy with the level of assistance from the dealership”

customer not happy

We understand that managing a dealership is a demanding task, with an endless list of jobs and responsibilities all battling for your attention on a daily basis. However, the main reasons customers file a complaint with us, is when they already have an issue with their vehicle and are unhappy with the level of assistance from the dealership.

Advise customers on your after sales process

When it comes to your dealerships aftersales process, we would recommend making sure that your customers are aware of it at point of sale. We also recommend giving customers the contact details of who to speak to in case of any issues, and explain your complaints process, as setting expectations with them from the start can make a genuine difference. If a customer lives quite far from the dealership, it’s also a good idea to advise them of their responsibility, that they need to return the car for any necessary inspections or repairs should an issue occur.

What resolution does the customer want?

Our team has also found that it’s really important to understand what the customer is seeking in terms of a solution, right from the moment you become aware of an issue. This allows you to customise your response, minimises potential misunderstandings later, saves time, and leads to a faster and satisfactory resolution. 

Get the vehicle inspected as soon as possible

Getting the vehicle inspected as soon as possible is also essential, this allows you to quickly identify any issues the customer has raised, decreases the amount of waiting time if a part needs ordering and generally speeds up the entire process.

“The dealership doesn’t keep me updated”

customer unhappy with no call

One of the most common complaints we receive is that dealers don’t maintain adequate communication with customers, particularly when a vehicle issue is under investigation or repair.

Keep in touch with the customer

While we understand the daily demands of running a dealership, it's important to keep customers informed about the progress in resolving their vehicle's issues. Customers will be more understanding when they receive regular updates and realistic timeframes, as it's crucial not to overpromise and underdeliver.

Keeping in regular contact with customers, even if an update isn’t available and just touching base can reassure the customer that their concern has not been forgotten, as this can make a big difference to the customers perception of your dealership. 

Keep customers updated on the progress of repairs

We know that vehicles can be complex, so it's advisable to be transparent about the challenges and progress involved in resolving any issues. Customers value honesty and are more likely to understand the complexities of the vehicle’s repairs, or waiting for necessary parts if they are kept in the loop. 

Follow-up is key

After the issue is resolved and the customer has the vehicle back, follow up with them to ensure there are no further issues, as customers who feel well-informed and supported are more likely to return and recommend your dealership to others.

“My vehicle has another problem, and the dealer has already fixed it before”

customer looking at car

The Consumer Rights Act allows dealers one chance to fix a vehicle issue that has been identified as being present at point of sale if it is identified after the first 30 days. Even if a completely new and unrelated problem crops up later, customers might still have the right to reject the vehicle if it's proven to have existed at the time of sale as well. 

Fix any other issues

Our recommendation is to carry out a detailed inspection of the vehicle after any initial repairs have been completed, before releasing it back to the customer. Fixing any smaller issues found can reduce the risk of future problems and any potential unwinding of the customers’ finance agreement. 

Keep a paper trail

We would also recommend keeping a paper trail of all repairs carried out, including the specific issues addressed, parts replaced, and work that has been carried out. We also recommend telling the customer the results of any post-repair inspections, and explain if any other issues were found, especially the steps you have taken to address them, as this documentation can prove invaluable in case of any future problems.

“I don’t understand warranty companies”

customer confused with warranty company

Warranty companies might seem mysterious to customers who haven't dealt with them before. Those of us in the motor trade are used to dealing with various companies every day, but customers may feel confused when given a warranty company's contact number and told to talk to them.

Make contact on behalf of the customer

We would advise our dealer partners to consider going the extra mile and offer to make the initial call to the warranty company on behalf of the customer. We understand that you can’t call the warranty company every time on behalf of the customer, so make sure that you give the customer all the information they need, as you want them to be able to deal with the warranty company themselves from that point forward. Assisting the customer in this way, not only reduces the chance of the customer's initial anxiety, but also ensures a smooth start to the claim process and offers a better level of customer service overall.

Achieving good customer outcomes

Our customer experience team believes that informing customers about the aftersales process, keeping in touch with the customer throughout, getting the vehicle inspected as quickly as possible, and providing extra support with warranty companies can make a huge difference to the customers experience. Complaints are also opportunities, as a well-handled complaint can transform an upset customer into one who not only returns but also recommends your dealership to others. It's not just about fixing vehicles, it's about nurturing trust, building your reputation, delivering excellent customer service, and achieving positive customer outcomes.

Partner with us

Partner with us

If you want to work with one of the best sub-prime finance companies in the UK, First Response Finance is here for you. Our flexible criteria, award-winning service, and consistent recognition from the industry, we are the go-to sub-prime finance company in the motor trade that you can trust.

Partner with us and experience the difference of working with the best subprime finance lenders, dedicated to helping you and your dealership get more deals over the line. If you don’t currently work with First Response Finance and would like to discuss how we can help you and your sub-prime customers, click the relevant button below, and Brad from our team will be in touch to discuss how we can help you sell more cars on finance.

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