You can’t make this crap up

Home Column You can't make this crap up

customer serviceI always like to share my experiences when it comes to customer service—both good and bad—because it can either serve as a lesson or reinforce what you already know. I’ve learned that everyday encounters can always be applied to retail.

So my story begins with my car/ truck/small SUV—whatever you want to call it—making a weird sound. It can probably best be described as a low, humming “woo, woo, woo” sound coming from the front end. It also probably was happening for a while; whether I didn’t hear it or chose to ignore it is debatable.

Anyway, after a passenger noticed the sound in three seconds, I felt I should take the car to the dealer because they’re supposedly the experts when it comes to things like this. While my vehicle is not a Bentley or Aston Martin, it’s not a Ford Pinto, either. Nor is it American made.

Not that any of this matters when it comes to customer service. I don’t care if you’re selling $100,000 cars or $20,000 cars, you should always provide stellar customer service. In other words, I don’t care if you’re selling high-end carpet or remnants, providing good service is non-negotiable.

Back to the story…I take the car to the dealership on Aug. 8, and they think it’s probably the bearings. Which is under warranty. In other words, no dollars out of my pocket. I ask for a loaner. I’m told no loaners are available until September. (No money, no loaner.) I Uber to the office. The dealership will call at noon to confirm it’s the bearings and promise the work will be done by end of day. When it’s 4 p.m. and I receive no call, I take matters into my own hands. They give me a very good reason why they didn’t call. They haven’t even touched the car.

Lesson #1 – Don’t over promise and under deliver.

Now I am forced to take a train or Uber back to the city and again to the office the next day.

Lesson #2 – If your inability to live up to your promise is going to cost your customer money, offer to compensate them.

I’m told the car will be ready by end of day. I show up at the dealership around 5 p.m. That’s “end” enough. I’m told the car is still on the lift and will be until tomorrow. But they have a loaner for me. You know, the loaner they didn’t want to give me when I brought the car in.

Lesson #3 – Don’t lie to your customers.

I’m less aggravated because at least I have wheels now, and a newer version of my car. The next day when I call, they tell me the car is done but the woo woo sound remains. Maybe it’s the tires, I’m told. How much? “$1,032.”At this point, what can I do except pick my car up at the end of the day. I’m wondering if they even changed the bearings in the first place. When I arrive to retrieve my vehicle with my new $1,000 tires, it’s not ready. The service dude tells me, “Look. We can probably handle about 17 cars a day. They are making us take in 63.”

Lesson #4 – Don’t take on more work than you can realistically handle.

I wind up getting the car back a couple days later. No more woo woo sound. What a pleasant drive to work it was—until I got out of the car and found more than a few scratches that weren’t there when I took the car in. Irate, I call the dealership right way. The service dude promises he will make it right and will do a full detail.

Lesson #5 – Your installers go into people’s homes. Make sure they treat the home with care and leave it as they found it with no damage.

I’m traveling for a few days so I have no issue dropping it off on my way to the airport. I tell them I’ll pick it up on Tuesday, Aug. 29. Tuesday comes and I get a text that the vehicle is still being buffed out because things got pushed around the day before. (Translation: Paying customers come first.) Be ready tomorrow morning. Tomorrow morning comes and the daily text asks if he can have until the end of the day. Not ready. Thursday morning comes and the daily text informs me that they are again putting me in a loaner (you know, the loaner that’s not available until September) because they parked my car outside and it got rain spots on it and “I’m having them re-do it because of their lack of common sense.”

Lesson #6 —Your customers are not idiots; don’t treat them like idiots.

I tell them I will pick it up on Tuesday, the day after Labor Day. Tuesday comes and I’m told, “I thought you said Wednesday. We still have to go and pick your car up today.” That’s all fine and dandy, except I have an Apple tag in my car and it shows the car sitting right at the dealership. When I call out the service dude via text, I get no response.

Lesson #7 – Own up to your mistakes and, again, don’t lie to the customer.

I get the car back the next day, and guess what? Half the scratches are still there.

Lesson #8 – When all else fails, do the job you say you’ll do and do it on time with minimal headaches to your customer.

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Sept. 11/18, 2023

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