Undoubtedly, most of the population understands that businesses need to adapt to the ‘new normal’ during the COVID-10 recovery. Between plexiglass shields and social distancing stickers on the floor to increased distance between staff members, everything has changed physically. What hasn’t changed is the expectation of service excellence.
Every phone call, every in-person interaction, and every email should be handled with professionalism. It’s more than just being above reproach – the customer’s future business hangs on how your dealership treats them now more than ever before.
Recently, I placed a call to the parts department at a dealership to source a component that’s uncommon but not impossible to find. At every stage, the interaction went sideways.
The first call. When I tried calling for the first time, the dealership didn’t answer the parts line. Voice mail. I left a message.
I then tried two other dealerships with the exact sale result! Messages were left, then I waited. After three hours, no returned calls. I tried again. And again. And again. Finally, after the fifth call, a real live person picked up and asked me to hold. Happy to have a warm body on the other side, I held for seven full minutes.
During the brief discussion about which part I was looking for, there was a bit of static on the line. He said I was breaking up, then after no more than four seconds, he hung up. I was furious. After holding seven minutes, he gives up on the call after four seconds.
In a rage, I called back repeatedly – probably eight to ten times – until someone answered again. Same guy. I politely said, “Sorry, I guess the call got dropped,” while gritting my teeth. He remained oblivious.
I carried on with my explanation for the hard-to-find part. Again, “please hold.” Then, TEN MORE MINUTES ON HOLD LATER, he comes back and says it’s not possible.
I teed off. No need to describe. I found it online and purchased it in minutes.
This is not about me at all. As someone familiar with the auto industry and some of the nuances, I believe I gave the dealer more latitude than a non-associated customer would. At the first point of difficulty, a customer has the ability to defect. I stuck with it.
Weigh in if you think I’m wrong, but I think these are the expectations a customer should reasonably have met.
Accept this anecdote as a sample of how not to handle a customer who calls into the dealership. This was a parts desk but it could’ve been any department. A frustrated caller could be a loyal customer that’s now going to try a different dealer instead. Provide an exceptional customer service experience every time, whether you’re short-staffed from a pandemic or not, and your customers will keep coming back.