Auto Customer Service Woes!

You could ask any company, and most would agree; “Customer Service is king, the relationships with our customers are key to our success” and yet…….

Firstly, companies do not deliver on the promise, and secondly they perhaps should not make the promise in the first place.

Why do I say that? (asks my reader —unless there are now two of you). Well there is no point in making promises that you cannot keep; that’s common sense, learnt on your mother’s knee, and it applies to companies as well as individuals. If a seven year old promises not to do something ever again, and then repeats the misdemeanor thirty minutes later, he or she will get a telling-off and maybe a short lecture from an aggravated parent. And that’s all.
But for a company there is nothing worse than promising great customer service and then failing to deliver…. a customer won’t just give you a lecture; he or she will just find another company to deal with, and maybe will advise friends, relatives and colleagues to boycott the company too.

Here’s a few facts (or at least some generally accepted statistics!)
– Only 5-10% of customers bother to complain
– 68% of customers defect due to a perceived attitude of indifference toward them by staff.
– A rapid resolution to a complaint improves the chances of customer retention by 26%. (Over 50% of customers expect their telephone complaints to be resolved the same day)
– A 1% increase in customer satisfaction can create a 4% increase in revenue per year.

So given all this, why do companies set a customer expectation that they cannot meet?
Well, it’s easy to sound good on paper, but far too frequently companies forget they need a process to deliver their promises. If the processes are not in place, or they cannot be managed consistently, then companies should not set up extravagant customer expectations that they fail to meet.

Now, processes will vary company by company, but let me give you a start point. I think it’s really important that whoever the customer contacts, must take OWNERSHIP of the problem. If they cannot resolve the issue than they must ensure that someone else does within an agreed time span. Not a bad foundation to build a process on!

You may wonder why I got on to this subject…….well six months ago I received a letter from a car manufacturer telling me that my car was subject to a recall, but there were no spare parts available and they would get back in touch when they had some. They also told me that the recall might not affect my car, though they would have to check. I heard nothing further so recently I called them to see if there was an update. The customer service rep I spoke to told me there was no further information. I commented (maybe somewhat sarcastically) that while I was grateful for receiving a letter from the company alerting me to a potential problem, I was disappointed that in six months, one of the world’s largest car companies had not made any progress in either sourcing spare parts or determining whether my car needed them.

And then it happened…….the Customer Service rep told me she wasn’t responsible for the content of the letter, there was no further information and she could not help me further. I casually inquired why they had bothered to write to me in the first place to worry me about a potential issue if they never intended to take any further action.
And here’s the point, she might not have the information to respond to an issue that was raised by her company six months before (I don’t blame her for that, it’s a lack of process in her company); She might not be able to do anything, but I can. I can make determinations about a company that tells me its going to do something, and six months later has done nothing (not even briefing its customer service team on the issue).

I can determine never to deal with this company again, and all because they set up an expectation in my mind, that they found impossible to meet.

Maybe just maybe, someone should have thought about the expectations they were creating, and then set up a process to deliver them.

What do you think?


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