The Grandma Test: Knowing What to Say to Customers - BodyShop Business
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The Grandma Test: Knowing What to Say to Customers

You may never know that what you’re saying is annoying your shop’s customers until you involve your grandma.

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If you’ve been in business longer than three days, you’ve probably said one of the following to a customer:

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"I’m sorry. Your car won’t be ready on Friday like we promised."

"I know you’re upset about the accident, but I’m afraid I don’t have time right now to hear about it."

"This isn’t my decision. If you’re unhappy about it, you need to talk to your insurance company."

"Have a seat; it’ll be a few minutes before one of our estimators can get to you."

Have you ever had a customer react badly to something you’ve said? If you’ve been in business for more than four days, the odds are good that you have. And if the customer reacts badly, that’s not so bad. It at least gives you the opportunity to make it right by apologizing.

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But what if you don’t know that what you’ve said has upset or irritated a customer? Then what? Then the customer walks out … never to be seen or heard from again.

Never to be seen again anyway.

The odds are good that lots of people will hear from that customer — who will tell friends, family and anyone else willing to lend an ear about how mean you are.

The question is, how do you know when what you — and your employees — are saying is irritating or upsetting your customers? And how can you prevent it from happening?

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Take the grandma test.

Attach the word "grandma" to the end of everything you say.

"I’m sorry. Your car won’t be ready on Friday like we promised, grandma."

"I know you’re upset about the accident, but I’m afraid I don’t have time right now to hear about it, grandma."

"This isn’t my decision. If you’re unhappy about it, you need to talk to your insurance company, grandma."

"Have a seat; it’ll be a few minutes before one of our estimators can get to you, grandma."

If the phrase sounds like something you’d say to your grandma — or like something your grandma would want to hear — then it’s OK. If not, then it’s probably not such a good idea that you use it on your customers either.

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Also, keep in mind that a grandma loves you unconditionally, so even when you do say something stupid and rude to her, she keeps coming around. Customers, as you know, aren’t nearly that loyal. They don’t love you. And, depending on how you talk to them, they make not like you either.

Writer Georgina Kajganic is editor of BodyShop Business.

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