Who’s on First?

I lease a car. The lease expires soon. I called the auto company . . . they said to call their inspection company. I called the inspection company and set a date/time.
Inspection time comes . . . nobody shows up. I call the inspection company and she said the inspection was cancelled. I asked why and she said I needed to call the auto company. I asked why her inspection company did not call to inform me of the cancellation and she said I would have to talk to the auto company.
I called the auto company and that lady told me the inspection had been cancelled because I had requested an additional month on my lease. I said when I had checked they said to go ahead with the inspection anyway since it was good for sixty days. She looked up the rules and said I was right. I asked if she would reschedule me and she said no . . . I had to call the inspection company again.
Here is my point . . .
This is obviously a laughable customer service story but here is the really bad part. Neither customer service rep showed even one spark of remorse for my inconvenience . . . purely clinical all the way. And neither person took any responsibility nor any initiative in helping me along . . . I was just a call to process and get rid of.
Here is a major automotive company that spends hundreds of millions of dollars on spectacular advertising and sales training, and it is being completely undermined at the simple, customer service level . . . and they don’t even know it.
A good lesson for all of us . . . check on the people who are touching your customers occasionally. You might be surprised . . . one way or the other.

2 Comments on “Who’s on First?

  1. The virtual media and now much of what is virtual customer service has taken not only good service out of many business interactions it has caused those that directly service us to become order takers instead of customer advocates. Unfortunately as more things are done by internet the customer moves farther and farther away from the providers. And the providers that have service representatives suffer because their reps are no longer really engaged. Many service reps don’t have experience interacting directly with customers and the service shows. Customer service won’t usually become “one size fits all” but companies want it to be that way for cost considerations. But the people that work in customer service less and less engaged with the customer.

    As Mr Schmooze you fully understand the role of customer service from a sales standpoint. Your articles discuss knowing the client and listening to the client in various ways during the first meeting to engagement and finalization of a business deal. Many big corporation now want to disengage from the customer for time and cost reasons. That’s fine for inexpensive widgets ordered on the internet. But larger consumer items, like cars, computers, or other items need the ability for the consumer to address problems with problem solving customer service reps. It happens less and less. Too bad for the companies and the business they might loose and the consumer too.

    Perhaps an opportunity for Mr. Schmooze to teach good customer service? After all customer service presents a great opportunity to resell and reconnect with the customer. Right up yuor alley!

    I will compliment two companies that sell rather expensive outdoor gear. Both Marmot and Patagonia are brands I have purchased a fair amount of coats, fleece, t-necks and other outdoor active wear from over many years. When you call them they respond, replace or will repair your items at no charge in most cases and send it back to you or the store to pick up. Great service that makes the entry price seem a bit more affordable. Many of their well know competitors don’t respond like that or have a very limited service department that won’t repair items that have failed in some way. I will usually pay more for well produced items and feel even better when it is so well serviced.

    Take care Rick

    • Thank you Charlie. Quite a few of our posts reference both sales and customer service since they are so closely linked and indeed one and the same. The trend of replacing service people with automated prompts is beyond our control but, as you suggest and I agree, provides an opportunity for companies like Patagonia to distinguish themselves. I referenced an article in the Harvard Business Review today that speaks in depth to the very dynamic you are describing if you want to Google it. The article is titled. “How to Win and Keep Customers. What P&G, Lego and Intuit Know About Beating the Competition.” HBR.org January/February. Also on the newsstands. Thank you Charlie.

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