Sell and Forget Customer Service.

By Chris Lott | Business, Management | 6758 Views | 3 Comments    

My wife needed a new vehicle due to medical issues. She was in Seattle for the operation. I had a week before I needed to get the vehicle to her. The mini-van needed detailed, rear bumper repaired, leather and heated seats added, and floor mats. I paid what they asked and was pre-approved. Pretty easy sale. While signing the papers I was asked to take the vehicle now and then bring back later. I resisted as this was inconvenient and unnecessary. I just wanted to pick it up when all the work was finished. Ultimately I was convinced to take it now.


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As I was signing the paperwork I asked the manager… “who was going to be held accountable for making sure that all the items that needed to be done would be scheduled” as I would be leaving with the van in a week. Looking a little confused at the question he eventually assured me my salesman and/or he would do just that. Unfortunately that didn’t happen.

Monday, Tuesday, nothing scheduled. Wednesday I dropped by because the temporary tag had expired. I had never bought from a dealer where they didn’t provide the plates. I was told that I needed to go during business hours and do this myself somewhere else. Starting to get frustrated… I asked where we were on getting the add-on’s scheduled which he replied he would try to get the mats and bumper fixed Friday.

Thursday, Friday no call until Friday evening late which I was busy and it went to voicemail. Saturday, half way to Seattle, I get a call from the salesman wanting to know when I could get in for the bumper and mats. Now I am not happy. I hang up with him and call the manager.

The manager asked how I was and I told him I was not happy. I explained that the license plate issue was the first problem as I had been driving around on expired tags. He immediately took offense and insinuated that I was calling him a liar as he was positive he explained that to me. I have now gone from not happy to mad. For the next 10 minutes he defended everything they hadn’t done. Furious now, I summarized it for him this way… “I am now taking a filthy mini-van to my ill wife with no mats, bumper not fixed, nothing done. I suppose you feel that is my fault?”

Settling down, he then wanted to know what he needed to do. In as calm a voice as I could muster I explained “I made that very clear a week ago when you were happy to take my money. It was inconvenient to take immediate delivery of the van, as you know, and I did it as a favor to you. It’s unfortunate you didn’t follow through. When my wife gets well I will give you a second chance to do the right thing.” I am pretty sure he thought I was looking for a freebie. I wasn’t. I just wanted what was promised.

“If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell 6 friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends.” -Jeff Bezos

Don’t Commit Business Suicide

This dealership didn’t take ownership after the sale at any level. When confronted the manager was confrontational, arrogant, and rude when it would have been so easy to have been otherwise. I will never refer them to anyone I know. I would be afraid to.

Do you currently have safeguards in place so that poor customer service never happens?

Check out these customer service facts:

1.) Even in a negative economy, customer experience is a high priority for consumers, with 60% often or always paying more for a better experience.
Source: Harris Interactive, Customer Experience Impact Report

2.) 81% of companies with strong capabilities and competencies for delivering customer experience excellence are outperforming their competition.
Source: Peppers & Rogers Group, Customer Experience Maturity Monitor

3.) Out of best in class companies: 91% provide customers the ability to track issues over the web, 57% measure support center success across email, chat, web, and voice, and 62% use integrated voice response (IVR)
Source: Aberdeen Group

4.) 70% of customer experience management best in class adopters use customer feedback to make strategic decision. 50% of industry-average organizations and 29% of laggards do.
Source: Aberdeen Group, Customer Experience Management: Engaging Loyal Customers to Evangelize Your Brand

5.) The top three drivers for investing in customer experience management are:

    1. Improve customer retention – (42 %)
    2. Improve customer satisfaction – (33 %)
    3. Increase cross-selling and up-selling (32 %)

Source: Aberdeen report – Customer Experience Management: Engaging Loyal Customers to Evangelize Your Brand

6.) A dissatisfied consumer will tell between 9 and 15 people about their experience. About 13% of dissatisfied customers tell more than 20 people.
Source: White House Office of Consumer Affairs, Washington, DC

7.) Retailers and hotels provide the best average customer experience in North America overall as an industry.
Source: Forrester Customer Experience Index 2010

8.) 90% of North American firms view customer experience as important or critical. 80% of the firms would like to use customer experience as a form of differentiation.
Source: Forrester’s The State Of Customer Experience

9.) 86% of consumers quit doing business with a company because of a bad customer experience, up from 59% 4 years ago
Source: Harris Interactive, Customer Experience Impact Report

10.) For every customer complaint, there are 26 other customers who have remained silent
Source: Lee Resource Inc

11.) Customer churn is caused by customer feelings of poor treatment 68% of the time
Source: TARP

12.) It takes 12 positive service experiences to make up for one negative experience
Source: “Understanding Customers” by Ruby Newell-Legner

13.) 91% of unhappy customers will not willingly do business with your organization again
Source: Lee Resource Inc.

“The goal as a company is to have customer service that is not just the best, but legendary.” –Sam Walton

14.) Happy customers who get their issue resolved tell about 4 to 6 people about their experience.
Source: White House Office of Consumer Affairs, Washington, DC

15.) Attracting a new customer costs 5 times as much as keeping an existing one
Source: Lee Resource Inc.

16.) 76% of companies motivate employees to treat customers fairly and 62% provide effective tools and training to gain trust with their customers.
Source: Peppers & Rogers Group, Customer Experience Maturity Monitor

In my organization I have asked for the salesperson to be onsite when the installation occurs. We have a customer care representative call periodically with surveys and such to make sure they continue to be happy customers. We have seen increased purchasing, referrals, and long term loyalty with this process

Bottom line, reputation and referrals are the life blood of any business. Don’t sell and forget. It could become your business suicide.

Resource: Customer Service Statistics

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Chris Lott has this crazy creative side that motivates him to design websites and write articles. He's a disruptive technologist and is passionate about sales, family, and anything related to technology. See what others are saying about his work!.


3 thoughts on “Sell and Forget Customer Service.

  1. Chris, great article. What a sad story that happens too many times, and needlessly. As a small business owner I try to make sure to followup with phone calls and to ask the customers if they understand, if they are satisfied, and in short to make sure they have everything they need to be satisfied with my service.

  2. How much better would it have been if the manager had taken ownership?

    "We're in the wrong, I'm so sorry. Let me try to make it as right as possible."

    I blogged about a similar experience, only the vendor made things right. It was a valuable opportunity to see my vendor's character. The vendor actually earned my loyalty by rectifying their mistake.

  3. Hi Chris,

    Good news travels quick and bad news even faster, If I have a good experience, and timely correction of problems encountered can even enhance that experience, I never hesitate to recommend that firm. On the other hand, with a bad experience, I will go out of my way to share that with others. And you can bet that, by the time I have shared this 10 times, the story is one heck of a lot better than the first time I told it :).

    Thanks for letting me weigh in!


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