Two stories: Is either a good customer experience?

Now that I’m more involved with Customer Support at Blurb, I’m now looking at personal experiences with customer support through a different lens. I started this post a while ago, never finished it, but upon today’s experience, here it is.

Today I travelled to Redwood City for a smallish, peer-attended event given by our CRM vendor. A little bit of this and that with an emphasis on UGC, social networking best practices, and the opportunity to meet like-minded peers in the area. Snapfish! Shutterfly! Friendster! OK, I thought, worth the time out of the office to see what others are doing in customer support. Only someone forgot to update the guest list and the agenda.

Less than 20 people were there, and half were made up of employees of the vendor, their business partners, and speakers. Disappointed? You bet. It was a glorified sales presentation to win over potential customers. Only I was already a customer. Not a great use of my time. Grade: D

The next story is a few weeks old, but one that anyone can relate to.

My 12-year old car, truck, okay, SUV needed an oil change before a kamikazi-weekend roadtrip from Oakland to Utah and back again. I asked my car dealer service department if they could check out a burning oil smell. Cut to the chase. Burning oil smell = problem, but they don’t have the part. They’d have to order it. Come back after driving 500 to 1,000 miles. I told them I would be back in four days.

I returned after driving 1,300 miles, dropped off car, only to get a phone call a few hours later. Oh, hi, we need to order the part. Can you leave the car overnight? We’ll clean it for you. Uh, sure, but why didn’t you order the part last week? Next day, I scrambled to catch a Transbay bus to pick up truck SUV before they closed. Paid. Waited for truck to come down. Waited. Someone finally drove it down from the roof. First thing I noticed – it hadn’t been washed. I went to jump into my seat and wtf! All over the seat … crumbs and smeared chocolate. Not happy at all. Someone used my truck as a picnic bench. I called the driver over who put his hands in the air and walked away shaking his head. Got the last remaining person in charge who stared at the mess in disbelief and couldn’t believe they had done that. He said that his manager would call me in the morning.

Needless to say, angry is not the word to describe how I felt. And needless to say, no phone call from the dealership the next day. So, I hauled my not-very happy ass back down to the dealership (third time in less than a week) and asked for the manager who said, yeah, he had heard about it. Looked at it apologized and offered to clean it. Handed me over to my initial associate and walked off. I picked up my car at the end of the day and all was well, I guess. Truck was clean. Oil was changed. Leak was taken care of. I was inconvenienced many times over, but got what I wanted after three separate trips to the dealership.

But wait. The dealership wants to make sure I am happy. They call me once, twice, almost pleading for me to give them a good review if I happen to get a survey from Toyota. I mean here’s what is stamped on their receipt:

Thanks for doing business at Downtown Auto Center! We are committed to providing the best service possible. Help us provide top quality service by sharing your comments or suggestions with us. If you receive a survey we want you to be able to respond 100% satisfied. Regards – The management.

Um, okay. I got the survey. Filled it out. Honestly. Sent it in. Got a follow-up letter (you know, an envelope with a stamp and everything), asking me to fill out the survey and mention my great customer experience. Grade: B-/C+ (I hated when teacher did that to me, so call this revenge.)

What did I learn here? Many things, including a good customer experience means knowing when to trust your customers. And to leave them alone.

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  1. Double carma « Kathy Badertscher

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