It’s easy to dismiss customer criticisms. After all, you know they don’t truly understand what goes on in the background or how much work went into that repair they’re not happy with. But if you want to improve your business, don’t stop at “They just don’t get it.” Candidly assessing customer feedback can help you tune into what’s going right and what’s going wrong in your shop. To handle complaints:

1. Seek out customer feedback.

Hearing criticism is difficult for anyone, and when it’s about something as important as your business, it’s tempting to avoid it altogether. The better solution? Look for feedback from your clients, even the really bad stuff.

To start, make asking customers about their experiences part of the repair process. Some companies follow up via phone with clients at random or send a survey email after repairs have been finished. If you have a Facebook page, you’ll be able to see customer reviews there, and you should also look at areas like Yelp and Google Reviews to see what people are saying. The key is to make reviewing feedback an expected part of the cycle for your team so they’ll know their performance and behavior is an important part of the business.

2. Take note of patterns and do a post-mortem. 

Once you’ve gathered some data, start to evaluate. How are things looking overall (honestly)? Are there some commonalities among the reviews? Seeing patterns can be frustrating on one hand, but it also tells you where to concentrate your efforts. These are your biggest opportunities for improvement. You can confidently put time, effort and money into them, knowing there will very likely be a return on your investment.

Some complaints might call for a closer look. If you can, track down the incident and take stock of what really happened. Did someone make a mistake or is there an error built into the process? Can you fix the process? How often does that person make similar mistakes? Dig in to find the real source of the problem. 

3. Make the necessary changes (even the hard ones).

The final step is to take what you’ve learned and make meaningful changes. Maybe you need to put a different person in charge of ordering parts or establishing blueprints. It could also mean you need to let go of processes that simply aren’t working. That can be difficult to do if you’ve spearheaded them or think they’re a good idea on paper. But now is the time for some brutal honesty—even with yourself. Cut what isn’t working.

You may need to evaluate personnel, too. Is there a skills issue that can be addressed with better training? Do you need to refocus on the importance of customer service? Once in a while you may have to make the difficult decision to let an employee go, but often there’s a path to improve the situation, for both the tech and your shop.

Above all, don’t be discouraged by missteps. Some of the most famous entrepreneurs have also failed famously. And when you learn from mistakes, they’re really just building blocks.

P.S. If you find that your staff needs some additional training, take a minute to download our Collision Training Checklist or explore our Chief University classes.