Consumer experience trumps everything when it comes to differentiating your products and services from your competitors. Everyone knows that you really can’t buy a bad car anymore but you may have to endure a bad experience when purchasing, servicing or repairing it.
The following captures what I really don’t like about customer service and given that I’m not alone, I’m staggered that so many businesses just don’t get it.
My car went into a franchised dealership for some routine work. I was greeted by name, offered a coffee of the frothiest variety along with the offer of a chauffeur to take me to the office. All well and good.
Picking the car up later, the wheel dropped off the proverbial wagon. Service book stamped? No, despite an assurance to the contrary. Car cleaned? Yes, on the outside but inside it came back grimier than a drama series from BBC Wales. This was the second time I’ve experienced these things at the same centre. When I mentioned this to their customer team, I was told very nicely that it must be a glitch in their processes.
So, what do you do if your processes are suffering from an embarrassing dose of glitches? Standard operating procedure appears to be to employ another process, in the form of an online survey link, encouraging me to rate my experience. I scored them 3.0 out of 5.
At this point, another process kicked in and my score was queried. I was given an opportunity to go again. There had been some less than subliminal prompts suggesting that the entire team would be eternally grateful if I were to give a five-star rating. That prompt garnered a 2.9 from me.
From talking to friends and colleagues, my experience seems all too familiar. In an organisation’s search for exceptional customer service, new programmatic processes get in the way. When they go wrong they make things worse for the customer and the poor individuals who have to work in customer service teams forced to adopt these processes.
These companies would argue that they are just too big to be able to give customers an unstructured, organic service. But that isn’t the customer’s problem, it’s theirs. If they can’t get their act together, others who can will pick up all those consumers like me who are sick of being processed.
Of course, any commercial organisation will swear blind that their intention with any process is to generate greater satisfaction. What is good for the customer is good for their business, as it delivers increased whole-life value from that customer.
But what works in theory doesn’t always work in practice. If you’re determined to process the customer, don’t ever let the customer know about it. Processes that are visible to the individual being processed are surely the complete antithesis to what great customer service is all about.
That’s a good-bye from me - to you and the centre in question.