February 2, 2009

Is Good Customer Service Dead?

Recently a friend of mine encountered bad service, which left him feeling less loyal to this supplier of products and services. What happened? My friend (MF) needed to have some repairs made to his new car. MF believed the dealership where he bought the car would be the best place to go to get an excellent job. MF called the service department and was assigned a service representative (SR), who told him a time to bring in the car. During this time the SR would look at the car to check the part numbers and order them before the car is put into service area to speed the process. So MF drove the hour to the dealership only to be told after he got there they would not order the parts unless he left the car. Also, MF got there at near the appointed time, but his SR was at lunch so he had to wait about an hour for him to return. Maybe MF should have seen this as some sort of warning, but instead he arranged to bring the car back the following week and get a rental car to drive to work as the fix was supposed to be about 3 days after the parts arrived.

MF takes his car into the service department the start of the next week and is picked-up by the rental car agency. MF is told he will be called in a day or two about with the repair status by SR. MF never gets a call and begins calling his SR the day before his rental car is to be returned. The SR never answers the phone so messages are left on voicemail and with the dealership’s receptionist. MF knows his SR is getting his messages because he saw the receptionist hand the SR several phone messages after lunch on the day he first met the SR. However, no calls are returned. So MF has to call the rental car agency and extend his rental. At close of the week, MF finally talks to his SR and finds out that the parts were just ordered and he should be able to pick up his car the following week since they don’t work weekends.

The next week comes and goes with MF calling his SR a few times each day trying to get some information on his car. Again the rental car time is extended. MF is feeling stressed and angry so he begins to ask for the service supervisor instead of his SR. Instead of getting the supervisor though the receptionist puts him directly to his SR. Why the SR is immediately able to answer the phone when the supervisor is asked for is suspicious. Finally, after actually talking to the supervisor (by not telling receptionist why), MF begins to get his calls returned by his SR. As a result, their customer service was very disappointing for MF as he was without his car for 2 full weeks plus 3 days. If the SR had just been courteous enough to answer the phone calls, then MF could accept some excuses, which seem to change each time he got through. By the end of everything, MF felt betrayed by the dealership and lied to by his SR.

MF often ignores customer surveys he gets from the dealership and car manufacturer, but now he is hoping to get one. MF plans to rate them badly where appropriate and if given space to write why, he will. Not only did this service disappoint him, but it lost a loyal customer for the dealership. MF will now take most of his service elsewhere when he has that option. MF also will not buy another car from this dealer as he feels how he was treated is a reflection on how much that company values his business.

Is there someone in your company that is delivering bad customer service and costing you future business? What can you do about it? Tell me your suggestions and come back to this blog for my next post on improving customer service.

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