• Kirk Dunn

Something to Know About Service

Updated: May 26

Don't give me bells and whistles when I ask for so much less.

Sometimes customers know exactly what they want. And companies can be tempted to offer them much more — all the bells and whistles. They frame it as ‘over-delivering for the client,’ but the result can be that the customer feels unheard, and worse, frustrated. Because in that moment, the company has made it more about the company than about the customer.

I had this experience recently when I needed my car radio fixed. Why it wasn’t working was a bit of a mystery. I also needed my snow tires removed, but I knew what that entailed — no mystery there.

I decided to take the car in to the dealership, thinking that they would certainly be able to change my tires, and they might be more familiar with the electrics of my car make and model than the mom and pop shop-style garage we’d been using for years a little further down the road. Let me help you visualize the dealership: it is a pristine two-floor building: on the main floor is a spotless garage, and on the second floor is the very glossy new car showroom with comfortable and stylish leather seating, free coffee and internet. Very fancy.

First off, the dealership couldn’t book me in for a good week. So, I took the 9:00 AM appointment the next Monday. I arrived a bit early and waited behind some other car owners who were being told their vehicles would be ready in 45 minutes, an hour, a couple of hours. They could sit, enjoy a coffee, use the free wi-fi, watch some large screen TV.

When I handed over the keys to the dealership's intake staffer, he let me know the car would be ready at 6:00 PM. Wait a minute, I thought. I had an appointment – where is my 45 minutes, an hour, two hours service? But, truth be told, I didn’t need the car before 6:00 (not that anyone had asked me), so I let that go. I reminded the guy staffer that the car radio wasn’t working, and he announced that they wouldn’t be able to even look at it without an entire electronics diagnostic test, which would cost $150, whether they found the cause of the problem or not. And that $150 would NOT be deductible off the cost of repairing the radio (should they be able to fix it).

I didn’t need an electronics work-up. And I didn’t need the glossy showroom. I just needed my snow tires swapped out, and my radio fixed. So, I took back my keys and drove two minutes down the road to my mom and pop shop. They squeezed me in right then and there, I went to get a coffee at the McDonald’s across the street while I waited, and when I returned, they said that the winter tires were off and in the back of the car, and the radio was… fixed. It was a simple matter of a couple of loose wires.

I was reminded of a few customer service rules by this small interaction in my personal life:

  1. Don’t make me wait for what is run-of-the-mill work. I’ll just run down the road to the business that will take me right away. My time is precious, and when you don’t treat it as such, I get the impression that you think your time is more valuable than mine.

  2. Don’t offer me more than I need. When you insist I get an entire diagnostic test on my car that will cost me $150 of my hard-earned dollars when I only have one issue, I feel bamboozled. And yes, I just used my parents’ old-timey word, bamboozled.

  3. I don’t need all the bells and whistles when what I really need is so much less. This is a good reminder for both the dealership and for me.

  4. Don’t take the customer for a chump. They know a bad deal when they see it and would prefer the Krazy Glue jury-rig than succumbing to being gouged.

  5. Your front-line staff has to be able to sell the cost of a repair honestly in order to sell it successfully. If he doesn’t believe it’s worth what you’re charging, you have a problem.

In our minds, unfortunately, the dealership is in a two-strikes-out position. From a customer service perspective, that’s hard to come back from.

Kirk Dunn is the VP of Customer Engagement at VereQuest and a highly skilled coach, actor/writer, and textile artist.

VEREQUEST is a consulting firm specializing in driving and sustaining the quality of the customer experience in the contact center environment. We help our clients, each a leading organization in N.A., to strive to win the hearts and loyalty of customers through a wide range of proprietary tools and techniques.

Get in touch to get to know us better @ info@verequest.com