Customer first service mantras have been around so long that we are sick of hearing about them . . . until we personally go through a new dismal customer service experience and are reminded how important the customer experience really is!
The truth is that business leaders must not only build a customer centric culture in their organization but they must constantly maintain this culture. It only takes one bad experience to tarnish a company’s reputation which can take years to rebuild!
My Honda Experience
I was recently looking to purchase a Honda Civic. My original thought was that I would buy one that was a few years old with really low mileage and that I would buy it from a dealership to ensure that warranty paperwork was properly transferred. After searching for a few weeks I found a car that I was interested in at a dealership close by.
I stopped in to see that car and realized that I could get a 2017 demo car for just a little more money but at a substantial discount from a new 2018 model. I met with Ryan, a friendly and knowledgeable salesperson, who provided a ton of great information and showed me some options. I selected the car I wanted and went for a test drive. Everything checked out perfectly but, I decided to take a day to think about it and told Ryan I would be back the following day at 2:00 PM to purchase the car.
That night my wife suggested that I call the other Honda dealerships in Calgary and see what 2017 demo models they might have in stock. After about 45 minutes of phone calls and internet searches I was only able to locate one other car meeting our criteria located at a dealership on the other side of Calgary.
I talked with the sales lady, Leah, on the phone about the car and found out it was exactly what we were looking for (a white, 2017, 4 door, automatic, Honda Civic) and it was $1000 cheaper than the car we found earlier in the day. So, even through it was already 8:00 PM I told Leah that we were on our way over to check out this great deal and I would ask for her when I arrived.
That is where things got interesting!
Bad Sales Experience
When we arrived at the dealership at 8:30 PM, the receptionist seemed very surprised when I asked for Leah. She made a few phone calls and then left reception for about 10 minutes and came back with a salesman who I will call Jim. Jim was very confused about why we were there and was super rude and aggressive. He told us that Leah was not even in sales. He then proceeded to get Leah on the phone and confronted her in front of us putting everyone in a very awkward position!
Through all the rudeness and awkwardness we were able to get a vehicle stock number and Jim disappeared for about 15 minutes as he tried to find this car.
He came back into his office to explain to us that the reason he was having a hard time finding the car was that – and this is going to sound too ridiculous to be true – the white car had been plastic dipped purple, it was a standard and not an automatic, and they raised the price by $3500 because of the custom purple paint job!
Jim proceeded to try sell us that car, which we definitely did not want, and then he resorted to “threatening” us that we would never find any car meeting our requirements!
Wow . . . that was absolutely the worst car sales experience I have ever experienced! Shep Hyken calls this a “Moment of Misery” in his book Be Amazing or Go Home!
Good Sales Experience
So, after that craziness, our expectations were set pretty low on what to expect with the car we had put on hold at the first dealership.
The next day when we arrived at our appointment, Ryan was there to greet us at the door and the car we wanted was prepped and ready. We sat down with Ryan and his manager and worked out a final price, added some options, and decided on a day to pick the car up. It really could not have gone any smoother!
If it was not for Ryan I probably would not have bought another Honda at all!
The Point of the Story . . .
So why did I take all this time to describe this hard to believe car buying experience?
As a business gets busy, leaders often lose sight of customer interactions and this is a huge risk. Staff must be continually reminded and trained on the proper way to treat customers and how to create customer loyalty. Similar to the way vision must be constantly communicated, the customer service mantra must be continually modeled and communicated by leadership.
If you are not constantly modeling and communicating proper leadership and customer engagement, your staff will take it upon themselves to set their own standards . . . and this most likely will not meet your expectations!
Don’t assume that your staff are all up to speed on how you want your customers to be treated. Implement an ongoing program this week that will constantly communicate to your staff your customer centric culture and how you want your customers to be treated!
Finally, take a look at these related articles:
- How to Provide Customer Service That Wins Customers For Life
- How to Make Your Customer a Hero
- How to Boost Customer Experience and Improve Your Business
- Do Your Employees Care About Your Customers?
“If you make a sale you make a living. If you make an investment of time and good service in a customer, you can make a fortune.” Jim Rohn
What customer experiences have you had that would provide value to other readers? Leave your comments below!
We help leaders navigate marketplace complexities and build successful and lasting business legacies.
Call or email us today for more information or to book your free business assessment:
Be sure to download a free copy of my new Ebook: 12 Steps to Business Transformation and to sign up at www.thinkingbusinessblog.com for weekly blog updates delivered to your inbox.