At the request of another business consultant, I am reviewing some materials he is hoping to use in upcoming training/facilitation sessions for clients interested in improving their customer service efforts. The materials are eye-opening, to say the least. And the reaction I’m receiving from others when I discuss this topic is also a revelation.
When I ask business owners about customer satisfaction, I tend to get stock, canned replies citing statistics or surveys that make them feel good. When I run across their customers, the answer to this same question may not be very favorable. When pressed further about the gap between the two answers, it’s not uncommon to hear excuses citing “policies” and “costs” for the differing perceptions.
In one case, a local auto dealership proudly advertises its superior customer service department as one of the reasons people should purchase vehicles from them. However, the other evening I stumbled across one of this dealer’s customers who gave me a scathing review of the service he has received from this same department. This customer cited repeat trips to fix the same problem with his vehicle and is knowledgeable enough to know what the fix should be that is not being performed for cost reasons, even though the dealer repeatedly insists on charging him for the faulty “fix”. This same customer also disputed a diagnosis blaming a “broken wire in the wiring harness.” The dealer wanted to charge this customer 30 hours of labor for removing and reinstalling the wiring harness. This does not even include finding the “broken wire”. In response, this customer spent an hour removing the wiring harness himself, stripping off most of the insulation, then took the harness to the dealer, dumped in on the service manager’s desk with the challenge to show which wire was broken. I’m waiting to hear what the answer was.
Is this customer’s experience an isolated instance? Sadly, the answer is probably not. But is it more cost effective to make the customer happy or have him go away and bad mouth this business?
Isn’t that the true price of customer loyalty?