+Scott Watson

Friday, 15 May 2009

Is Customer Service Only for Existing Customers?

The email below demonstrates how even when times are tough, some companies just don't appear to appreciate that keeping commitments is so vital to them attracting and also potentially retaining customers (income).

Lots has been written about customer care and much of it is really good stuff. Really simple stuff - perhaps too simple for some people within companies to comprehend. The context is this. My friend visited a car showroom to explore a 3 year rental on a new vehicle (rrp £22,500). A commitment was made by the sales executive regarding producing and submitting monthly rental costs, but they never appeared. What impact does this have on the potential customer? I can't or won't trust you. They have told me of course, and now I'm sharing it with you. Good news travels fast - bad news, even faster!

In the UK several car manufacturers have either reduced car production, and one or two have stopped altogether for at least 2 months. There is a stockpile of vehicles waiting to be sold, possibly at knock-down prices because of the economic climate, and on this occasion, perhaps the sales executive didn't want to sell/lease a vehicle for reasons best known to herself.

If you are the chief executive of a company with 100 employees, whether it is in sales, production, quality control, customer care or health and safety and just 10% of these employees demonstrates such a blase approach to their work, what do you think the impacts could be for you and the future of your company?

How can managers put a positive stop on such behaviours/attitudes? How do you hold each employee personally responsible for their actions or inactions? When does poor performance become a formal disciplinary matter? How do you actually know when a company actually truly cares about you, your well-being, your results and value for money?

Email is below.

Dear Mr ......

I wanted to share some feedback with you regarding the experience my fiancée and I had recently at your showroom.

We enquired about a new VW Tiguan and were advised that we would receive quotes by email within 48 hours. This is now 2 ½ weeks ago and despite my partner and I phoning your sales rep on 4 separate occasions and leaving messages for her, we have received no response. While we initially asked for a 3 year lease, we have now agreed to actually purchase the vehicle outright from another dealer. This dealer kept their commitment and offered a deal which is good for us and they say it is good for them too.

While I feel it is reasonable to receive a high quality of service at any time, at a time when the economy is on a slippery slope, I’d expect a car dealership to do its best to make the most of turning prospects into customers. As we have now agreed to purchase the vehicle, I'm sure you can figure out how much income your outlet could have attracted, and how much it has now lost. Here’s to hoping that our experience was an isolated incident.


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