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Don’t Leave Your Customer Out In The Cold

mechanics_love_meFor those of you that know me, locally, you’ve all probably heard (or even witnessed) the troubles I’ve been having with my 2004 Jeep Liberty. It seems like the winter of ’09-’10 has taken a pretty good toll on my little SUV. And for the past 14 to 16 months, I have been in one auto service center or another for everything from new tires, new break pads and rotors – all ’round, dead battery, cracked windshield (not yet fixed), various alignment issues (I need to stop plowing through snow drifts), and, of course, the routine oil changes and maintenance.

For a while there, I’d become accustomed to sitting in small, cold, white rooms and drinking stale coffee out of 8 oz Styrofoam cups. Hell, I used so many of those little things; I think I’m partially to blame for this global warming crap. We’ll need to talk to Al Gore about that one.  And what’s up with those 19″ RCA TVs mounted in the corner, flickering the local PBS station. Is that a service department prerequisite?

Anyway, yesterday, I’d finally had enough. For about three weeks now, I’d been driving my little Jeep 40 to 60 miles a day with a heater that would only blow hot air if it was going 45 miles per hour or faster.  Yes,  I live above the Mason-Dixon line and I have a shoddy heater in my car…  Brilliant!

It wasn’t such a huge deal for the trips into the office and back; I take the bypass in where 75 MPH is the median speed.  But once I got off the bypass or was driving through town, the frigid bite really set its teeth in.  Yesterday, it was -12˚F on my way into the office, and 30 seconds off the bypass, my car went from cozy warm to cold enough to freeze snot (trust me). By the time I got to the office parking lot, I was worried about frostbite on exposed extremities (thank GOD for seat warmers)!

So, I called my local Jeep dealer (yes, the dealer…).

When I called, of course I expected this:

Mechanic: “Hey…  huh?  Oh, man…  I s’pose we can work you in some time early next week.  Oh, by the way, we have an $80 inspection fee.

Me: “sigh…  oooohkaaaay…  lemme bend over…”

What I got:

Mechanic: “Sure, Mr. Clark…  we close at six tonight, but we’d be more than happy to come get it for you.  A heater, in this weather, is nothing to mess with.”

Me: “uh… no, I’ll drive it down after work, thanks.”

Mechanic: “Will you need a ride home?”

Me: giddy like a school girl, “Hee hee… no, my wife can pick me up.”

Mechanic: “Great, Mr. Clark. Robert will expect you around 5:30.  Is there anything else I can do for you?”

Me: “No… I love you…

Okay, I didn’t say that last part, but I was very attracted to the concept of good customer service, for once.  I hadn’t even gotten my car to the garage door yet and it was already a pleasant experience.  What a breath of fresh air!

So, upon arrival, I looked at my watch and realized it was about ten ’til six.  When I drove in, I fully expected half of the lights in the work bays to be off and a single, growly dude, in greasy coveralls, standing at the counter looking at his watch.

Not the case at all…

When I drove in, there were three employees working diligently at their respective check-in desks.  I parked and turned off my car (with numb fingers) and before I could get out, a friendly, clean-cut gentleman was standing at my door, clipboard in hand, ready to gather my information.

We quickly went over my needs and as soon as I gave him my name he said,

“Yes, Mr. Clark, I’m Robert.  Why don’t you go have a seat and I’ll be in to talk to you once we get ‘er looked at.”

Ah…  the dreaded waiting room…

I poured myself a MUG of coffee and went through a pair of hinged doors to …wait for it… the cleanest, most comfortably lit, cushy waiting room I’d ever seen!

There were two love seats and a couch flanked by oak end tables with every (auto, political and society) magazine one could imagine.  And on the other side of the room was a 60″ plasma television streaming ESPN via satellite. And the coffee tasted like Dunkin Donuts breakfast blend, but I couldn’t be positive…  Color me impressed.

I plopped down on the couch, pulled out my BlackBerry to check in on FourSquare and to do some Tweeting when I was shocked back to reality by the sound of my car’s horn honking.  I looked up and there was Robert, sitting in my driver’s seat honking the horn and waving toward a sign on the window…

“We have FREE WiFi!” He yelled through the glass.

I began to weep…

I’ve since moved in with Robert and the crew down at the Jeep dealership.  Although the beds are a little firm for my bad back, I’ve become accustomed to the warmth and comfort their waiting room provides.  Sure, I need to call-in for food, but the cleaning crew and back rubs make it all worth it.  I’ll miss my wife.

***

Why not make working with your company a positive experience?

What extra steps has your company taken to make your customer feel “at home” – or at least comfortable with your services? Next time you have a customer call on you, will you be like my Jeep dealer or will you be leaving your customers out in the cold?

Food for thought.

Keep Cooking! (Customer service that’s second-to-none!)
Andrew B. Clark
The Brand Chef

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