How to seriously p1$$ off your clients

How to seriously p1$$ off your clients

How to seriously p1$$ off your clients

I sat down to write a blog about pitching this morning and then remembered I had to book my car in for repair.

An hour later I’d abandoned the attempt and decided to write this blog instead because I’m seriously p1$$ed off at the moment and there’s a lesson for all of us here I feel.

I have a Mercedes SL 500 and on the way home from Manchester yesterday I had a couple of power failures. Accelerator pressed did not equal acceleration.

Better get it fixed. Better call the local Mercedes garage then.

Well, they made one fundamental mistake caused by a bad decision they took some time ago.

Here’s the sequence of events; see if you can spot what their bad decision was.

  1. I ring the garage and they told me to ring another number for their service department (get a shared switchboard I say).
  2. I ring the garage and Phil (not his real name) answers.
  3. He asks the problem and I tell him.
  4. He then says he’s going to transfer me to the service department where I’ll need to “tell them the problem again” (WTF!)
  5. He transfers me but nobody answers.
  6. I ring Phil again and he apologises and repeats the sequence; this time somebody answers.
  7. She suggests I should use the free road-side attendance service and asks me to wait whilst she checks. (thumbs up)
  8. 16 minutes of waiting later the phone goes dead. (thumbs down, crowd howling for blood)
  9. I ring the service number again – nobody answers and it switches me through to a computer. I ring off.
  10. I ring in again and this time get Phil. He apologises (again) and offers to get it sorted if I can get it to them (a whiff of decent customer service).
  11. I point out it isn’t safe to drive and I’m entitled to free roadside service. He gives me the number.
  12. I ring it and nobody answers – I wait 10 minutes and lose interest. (OFFS)

Did you spot their bad decision? This is what I think (I could be wrong).

Can you imagine some bright spark saying “look, we’ve done some analysis on the servicing process and we think we can streamline it to make it cheaper and better for the client”.

There follows a PowerPoint presentation that is, indeed, very compelling – the bright spark gets the go-ahead and everybody feels pleased with themselves.

They also broke the first two rules of client service excellence: –

Rule #1: “Never design a client service process which is good for you but bad for the client”

Rule #2: “Never make a client feel they are part of a process or a name on a database”.

The alternative was to for me to make one phone call to my local garage where somebody there takes ownership of my problem; solves it and then gets back to me.

That’s what head-turning, mind-blowing, WOW client service is all about. That’s right: it’s all about the client!

Well, better get back on the phone to Phil – can’t wait to tell all my friends to buy a Mercedes and get it serviced at the same place (not!)

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Posted in Blog, Sales Customer Service, Sales Relationships
20 comments on “How to seriously p1$$ off your clients
  1. Des says:

    Ive got a Range Rover Sport Mike and have similar problem getting through switchboard, but when penetration is completed 🙂 service peeps are actually very good. Ive explained how annoying the telephone non answering is but 10 months on no improvement! 🙁

    • Mike Ames says:

      (Mike not Melanie) I know Des – luxury cars and they can’t have you deal with a person who answers the phone. When you think about it you could even give your clients the offer of a concierge service. You pay extra but have your own personal contact – I’d buy it!

  2. Thom Gibbons says:

    Ouch, that is an experience to make you spit blood! How do so many places get it so wrong? There is another alternative, if you can’t trust garages to do the right thing find a service partner that will, my friend set up a business doing just that Customers make one call, Jo’s company handles the rest.

    The positive of this story, unfortunately not for you in this instance Mike, is that the big boys doing things so badly themselves creates fantastic opportunities for others. My business exists for that very reason as well, telecommunications providers can be right up there with their inability to offer good customer service.

    I am a little worried though as I drive a Merc too!!!!

    • Mike Ames says:

      Thanks Thom. I just can’t understand why they cant see how much frustration they cause in their clients. It really shouldn’t be like this!

  3. Everyone I know with a luxury car has this problem. Just get a little Fiat 500 like me!

  4. Absolutely appalling customer service especially on a luxury product-although service should be client-focuses whatever the product value!

  5. Will B says:

    So many errors in service, where do you start? For me, the main thing is that you want someone to make you feel like theyre taking ownership and responsibility for resolving your problem. They should have asked for your contact details, given you theirs (direct line) and ensured they were going to resolve immediately and use their knowledge of the organisation to make sure your problem is addressed. They take personal responsibility to then call you back to confirm everything.

    If the line is cut, they should phone you back, not put the need to resolve the problems with their crappy systems on to you.

    • Mike Ames says:

      Could not agree more Will. Not really rocket-science is it? You’re right – it is all about taking personal responsibility.

  6. Carl says:

    Sadly an all too familiar story, Mike. And one that is not restricted to the motor trade.

    I agree with Des that when you get through to customer service people they are usually very good; but they often get the sharp end of the stick as customers are usually cheesed-off by that point in their journey (no pun intended)!!

    • Mike Ames says:

      I think the customer care people can only be as good as the system they work in allows them to be Chris. Often this is too procedural and restrictive to allow them to truly take ownership. Call centres are the absolute epitome of how you shouldn’t treat clients.

  7. Carl Burns says:

    Great blog Mike, had this happen in Audi. Their service department is awful. That bad that last year they sent me a £100 voucher because i went direct to Audi UK with my complaint. Still doesn’t stop me buying cars, wouldnt mind Ive just bought a new Merc haha..

    • Mike Ames says:

      Thanks Carl – much appreciated. I’m not sure the make of car matters, as you illustrate with Audi, more the organisation. Big companies can be as agile as small ones but not if they drown the client experience in processes, rules, scripts and, most of all, computer programmes. I have to say I had 9 years of crazy-happy years with my Merc and I’m sure you will too. BTW when will I be a guest on your radio show – I’m learning Liverpudlian in readiness!

  8. Bob Frost says:

    You must buy your cars from the same Mercedes dealer that I do! Why is it so difficult?

    • Mike Ames says:

      Sounds like we do Bob. The answer is they put process over people and “efficiency” over empowerment. Except its not more efficient at all.

      • Des says:

        How about this for a sickener, my car is in for bodywork repair after non fault accident. Got a call to say it will be ready today so dropped back hire car, when I arrived to collect was told car isn’t steering properly, alignment issues! Grrr. Surely after quite severe front end damage this would have been first thing to check!!! So looking at driving to Cornwall in corsa! Still I’ve driven much worse so hey ho!

        • Mike Ames says:

          We all make mistakes Des but that’s not acceptable IMHO. Hope they make it up to you especially after the Corsa ordeal. Did you make it to Cornwall in the end?

  9. David says:

    Been loyal to German marques for 20years with some mixed and sometimes maddening experiences but the recent emissions issue with one brand has, in my opinion, seen their customer service shift to become something of an exemplar.

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