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Many professionals in boatyards, a boat dealership or marinas share a common bump in the road on occasion; the management of a challenging customer situation. An old saying “The customer is always right” is a motto that was popularized by many early pioneering retailers like Marshall Field at his Marshall Field’s department stores. Today, the customer isn’t always right, however we can’t make them wrong, as this ends up turning into a bad customer experience that can be shared online and damage your brand. Dealing with marine customers in a positive manner is crucial in ensuring your business maintains a stellar reputation in regards to customer service. Managing your business will come with its challenges, which is why implementing the right management software is important. But what about you as a professional dealing directly with a customer? Here are some tips to ensure you can properly handle challenging customer situations.

Cool Navigation Through It All

Remember, cooler heads prevail. It’s important to remain calm and adjust your mindset. Nobody appreciates a yelling and heated person and it’s your job in this situation is to stay cool and collected. There is no denying the urge to yell right back, but fight the urge. Listen carefully to what the customer is saying. An angry customer usually just wants someone to vent their anger to. That means that you need to do your best to listen carefully to what they are saying. Give the customer your undivided attention. When you listen to them, listen for the answers to these questions: What happened to make them upset? What do they want? What can you do to help?

Body Language Says a Lot

If you are face-to-face with an angry customer at your boat dealership, their body language will offer strong indicators to adjust to. Perhaps the customer was unhappy with a poor boat delivery, or was upset because of a payment issue? According to Lifehacker, crossed arms fall under the category of negative body language and can suggest that a person is physically cold, closed off, or frustrated. It’s necessary to pay attention to multiple behavioral cues as a single one can be misleading.

Identify The Cause

To help defuse the situation, you need to determine why the person you’re dealing with feels angry. Use effective questioning techniques or the 5 Whys method to get to the root cause of her anger. Encourage them to explain why they feel angry, don’t interrupt, and keep on asking questions until they have fully explained them self. Try to see things from their perspective as they express their feelings. When it’s your turn to talk, speak slowly and calmly, lower your vocal tone, and use non-threatening body language. This will often encourage others to calm down.

Try not to use generic statements, such as, “I understand how you feel,” or, “That sounds really frustrating.” Instead, use specific, clear statements that rephrase what the other person has said. It’s also important to communicate with empathy. For example, if your customer says, “I needed information on my work order and you’ve been ignoring me,” you could say, “So, you feel that I neglected you when you needed information from me, is that right?”

Reward Employees for Creating Happy Customers

Employees are accustomed to bonuses for sales, department cost reductions and other company goals. However, achieving strong customer outcomes requires a balanced set of metrics for teams and employees. If your marine business only tasks and compensates employees to deliver new boat sales, or prevent service agreements from canceling as examples, it should come as no surprise when short-term results improve while leading indicators of future success decline. These include metrics such as satisfaction, net promoter score, trust, and likelihood to repurchase. When this starts to decay, your brand not only risks future business results but also a reputation crisis in social media.

For great customer experience do a better job of identifying and hiring for communication and customer skills, and put the right financial incentives in place. Reward employees for delivering great experiences and making customers happy as much as for making a sale.

DockMaster Software is an industry leading management system for marinas, boatyards, and boat dealerships. DockMaster includes Unit Sales, Prospecting and F&I with fully integrated financial management and numerous integrations with CRM applications, dealer websites and text/messaging services. The Service module includes estimating, labor tracking, and complete parts management with ordering/receiving, subcontractor fulfillment and invoicing. DockMaster Mobile allows technicians to clock on/off jobs from any mobile device. Visual Marina™ management includes storage & billing, occupancy tracking, reservations and dry stack management, including integrations to leading consumer applications for boat rentals, online reservations, concierge/launch scheduling and our new Fuel Integration with FuelCloud. DockMaster also includes Point of Sale, Order Entry with eCommerce and a complete accounting system. Learn more at and follow DockMaster on TwitterInstagramFacebook, and LinkedIn. Or email

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