RAB Insights

RAB Research Archive

Are you missing an opportunity?

On October 16, my vehicle went in for an oil change and to diagnose a check engine light. The check engine light was much more severe than anticipated and required significant engine repairs. (In excess of $10,000). Since my vehicle is only a 2019, I inquired about power-train warranty coverage and was sent to the "customer care" department of the automaker.

My first call with a young woman named Bre gave me hope. She had a bubbly personality, was upbeat and seemingly listened to everything I shared. She genuinely seemed like she wanted to help and would take care of me. That was almost a month ago, and I still don't have my vehicle back. She promised to call me a few days later and discuss the situation and what they could do for my warranty coverage. She didn't call when she said she would. This week, after three weeks of attempting to contact her and three more broken promises of no callback, I asked to speak to her supervisor. Dale got on the phone and listened and, to my surprise, apologized profusely for the lack of follow-through. After three weeks of this nonsense, I asked him why I was just now talking to him, and he said, "I had no idea what was going on; nobody told me there was an issue."

After that call with Dale, he assigned me a new case manager, Elizabeth. She called immediately, offered her sincere apology for the mishandling of my case and promised to make it right. Make it right, she did. Within 24 hours of our first conversation, she had worked out all the details with the dealership. She exceeded my expectations, so I had very little out-of-pocket expense associated with this massive engine work.

Customer service is critical to the future of our businesses and those we serve. This experience taught me, again, that the most crucial element of customer service is to DO WHAT YOU SAY YOU ARE GOING TO DO. Don't miss that appointment if you promise to call back at a specific date and time. The first time, I was forgiving. The second time, I was annoyed. The third time, I spoke to the manager.

For managers, the key is to stay close to your customers because, in our experience, reps who provide lousy service won't tell you about it. If you only get involved when there is trouble, you're always dealing with angry customers, and sometimes it's too late to save them. And what fun is that? The end of the year is a great time to ask your customers how you are doing.

Various companies ask Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) each year to determine their top priorities. Consistently high on the list is customer feedback. In a March report from The Pipeline, they identified the critical need for asking and understanding customer needs, wants and desires:

Surveys: Sending out interactive surveys to new and existing customers is a great way to get an idea of what's on their minds. In doing so, you can create a record of priorities at different points in time.

Technology makes it easy to regularly and consistently ask your customers how you are doing. You can also identify key trends you want to benchmark or watch for yearly changes. It's standard practice now when buying something online to receive a survey to rate your experience. Not adopting this practice can allow minor issues to become major problems by the time they are discovered.

A simple web search will deliver top online survey solutions. Some are free, some are paid. From a salesperson's standpoint, surveys help you provide the level of service your customers want. From a management perspective, surveying your customers can help you identify skill gaps or systems issues that might keep customers from doing more business with you.

Knowing is always better than not knowing, especially with complaints or problems. Surveys can also provide a wealth of testimonial material for your marketing, prospecting and business development.

Within twenty-four hours, my opinion of this particular automaker went from, "I'm going to have a hard time buying from them in the future" to "That's amazing customer service." The difference was two people. Dale, the manager who got involved, and Elizabeth, the competent case manager assigned to my case, called back when she said she would and solved my problem. In other words, they both provided me with excellent customer service.

Jeff Schmidt is the SVP of Professional Development. You can reach him at Jeff.Schmidt@rab.com. You can all so connect with him on X and LinkedIn.

Source: Jeff Schmidt, SVP of Professional Development