Thursday, December 29, 2011

Customer Service

I recently took my car to a popular chain of automotive service shops (who shall remain nameless as I have friends that are former employees of said chain) to have my tires looked at – as you do when your tire pressure gauge continues to come on after having filled your tires with air numerous times.

As I mentioned, a close friend of mine once worked for this particular chain of automotive stores and I had hoped to receive the same kind of service that I had when he managed the shop. I introduced myself to the new manager (who knew my friend) and because of my relationship with the business he extended me the courtesy that I had expected to receive. – I’m talking discounts people.

It turned out that my front passenger-side tire had caught a nail in the sidewall and the tire needed replacing (these types of holes apparently cannot be patched). The manager was kind enough to offer me the new tire at cost and threw in the balancing for free.

I left the car at the shop to be worked on only to receive a call 30mins or so later suggesting that I replace the brake pads and rotors on all four of my cars tires. Truth be told, I was already aware that my break pads and rotors needed work as the sensor on the pads had worn down so far that there was a terrible screeching sound every time I drove. The cost for parts and labor would amount to be around $1,000. I had hoped that he could cut me some kind of deal as again, my friend was a former manager and I had just agreed to replace the tire, etc.

He assured me that the repairs were necessary and that I wouldn’t find a better deal anywhere else. As I was not prepared to incur a $1,000 hit that day, I declined his offer and asked that he only replace the tire for now.

Another hour or so later I received another call informing me that the tire had been replaced and I could pick up my car. I returned to the automotive center, paid for the services, and was handed back my keys. When I got back into my vehicle I noticed that my tire pressure sensor was still on. I asked one of the service technicians about it and he told me that because they had to replace the tire it may take some time for the sensor to turn off. Now, I happen to have had much experience in these matters as flat tires and low air pressure seem to be a common issue with me… I know that once all four tires have sufficient air, the sensor goes out immediately. The technician recommended that I drive the car for a few miles and if the light remained on to return to the shop. I obliged and took the car for a short trip down the road. As expected, the pressure sensor remained constant.

When I got back to the shop, the technician who I had last spoke with was helping another customer. I could do nothing but wait and went back inside to speak with the manager to inform him of the situation. At the time, he was on the phone so I decided to wait outside rather than bother him with what was likely a simple fix.

Also in the shop at this time was an older gentleman (a technician whom I recognized from when my friend had worked there). He wasn’t doing anything at that moment but rather than bother him I decided to wait patiently for the other technician who I had previously spoke with (The older gent didn’t seem too eager to lend his expertise). Finally I grew tired of waiting and approached the older gentleman… “Excuse me sir.” “What do you want!?” – was his reply (this guy had clearly forgotten everything that he was taught YEARS ago in the customer service training seminar).

I told him what had happened and that my tire pressure light was still on. Before I could finish my sentence he interrupted with “Oh that sounds like a computer issue… I’ve been working on these cars for years and that’s a common issue. You’ll have to take that to the dealership.” I know (having met the man before and having had conversations about his degree of experience with my friend) that this guy knows his stuff. Yet, what he says doesn’t resonate with me. So I suggest that perhaps one of the tires may have low air pressure and that maybe we could check to see if that is what’s causing the sensor to stay on.

He rebuts with “Oh no, that’s a computer problem. We’re pretty good about checking the tires… you’ll have to take it to the dealership.”

Rather than argue with the man and waste any more of my time, I take him for his word and consider going to the dealership. On my way back to work something isn’t sitting well with me. I am not convinced that one of my tires isn’t low. I decide to swing into the nearest Super Lube for a complimentary tire pressure inspection.

Wouldn’t you know it… my driver’s side tire is below recommended weight by 5lbs of pressure! Just as soon as I crank the engine… my tire pressure sensor GOES OUT!!
I thank the young men for their assistance and I’m on my merry way.

I called the manager of the automotive center and told him what had happened. I expressed to him my disappointment in the service that I had received at his shop and that I was now reluctant to bring my car back for the new brake pads and rotors. He apologized and expressed that he would do all he could to better assist me in the future. – I was still pretty upset.

My girlfriend’s family happens to have a relationship with a local brake service. I decided to give them a call for a second opinion. THANK GOODNESS I DID because as it turned out, they were able shave down my rotors with a machine that they have (rather than replacing them) AND they were running a sale on brake pads! What would have cost me almost $1,000 at the popular automotive service chain only turned out to be $345 at Ray Gordon’s Brake Service.  – Thank you Ray!

You would think that this is where the story ends… Truth be told I hadn’t even thought about writing about it until today when I received a phone call (a month or so later).

The phone call was from Ray Gordon’s Brake Service thanking me for my business. They wanted to call to make sure that my car was running well and that I was happy with the service I received. – I was blown away. Not only had I been overjoyed at the fact that I only had to pay a fraction of what I thought I was going to pay and that the service techs at Ray’s were polite, attentive, and helpful… but now I was getting a call asking me if I was satisfied and if I had any feedback on ways in which they could have done better???

Customer Service at it’s finest! – We all could learn a little something from Ray Gordon’s. Follow-ups are crucial. They can turn a happy client into a life-time customer. It definitely won’t hurt your rep either. We should hold businesses to a higher caliber of excellence. It shouldn’t be that we are surprised when we receive a follow-up letter or a call from someone whom we have recently done business with. Frankly, it should be expected.

I hope to apply this strategy to my sales game and increase the amount of thank you letters and courtesy calls I send/make. I doubt I’ll be going back to that first chain of automotive service shops but you can bet your bottom dollar that I’m not only going to Ray Gordon’s Brake Service for my own needs but I’m referring everyone I speak with that needs a good mechanic.

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