March 31, 2006

Customer Service That Rocks

Hallo... the decision was made - old car out, new car in. A list of new cars were identified and test driven by yours truly. One particular car caught my eye and senses like a magnetic attraction. It is the one!

Having identified the make and model, now began the search for the car in my favorite color and with all the gadgetry and options preferred. The hunt drove me from one dealership to another, and here is some of what I was told...

"Silver is a popular color and light blue looks nice.”
"We can put in leather seats for you, in fact the manufacturers leather isn't 100% leather."
“No such car in California or even Arizona and Nevada.”
“The car is no longer made in that color, but we have the last one of it kind sitting on a ship six weeks away.”
“There is no such car in the color and model you want in the entire United States.”

The last statement resonated across every dealership in the Northern California area. I do not exaggerate. Wait a minute, Northern California? So, I thought to myself, what about Southern California?

Tired of dealing with dealerships directly and getting the run around, I got on the car manufacturer’s website and searched for the make and model by location. Click, punch, and bingo! A dealership all the way down in Santa Clarita just north of Los Angeles had the perfect match.

A bit skeptical having been told so many different stories, I called them to ask if they really had the car I was looking for in stock, in the parking lot, and this very minute. A sales manager checked his logs and told me, “You betcha, it is here on the lot!”

In no time, we negotiated a deal at below invoice price and I was given two options regarding the delivery of the car – 1. dealership ships the car to me at no profit to them, they find a transportation company and I pick up the cost or 2. dealership pays for my plane ticket to fly out there and I drive back in my new car.

Fly – I like the sound of that! Lower cost than having the car shipped, but I felt it would be nice to take a break and go on a mini adventure.

So, off I flew into Van Nuys airport where I was met by a salesperson from the dealership in the company van. He had offered to pick me up in my new car, but I opted against it – too nervous to drive in fast paced Los Angeles among other related fears like, being in a new unscratched car on unfamiliar roads.

A 25 minute chatty ride later, we arrived at the dealership. I got to test drive my new car – a cool smooth ride! Wrapped up the paperwork between the salesperson, sales manager, and the finance whiz, and was all set to drive off up the highway with my new coffee mug and car to match. Popped in a Scorpion CD and hit the gas to “Here I am… rock you like a hurricane…”

The next day, I received a call from the salesperson to ask if my drive was safe and fun, and a few days later I received a tin of yummy cookies, a lovely thank you card, and a check reimbursing me for my plane ticket there. I am happy and still rocking to Scorpion. Why? Great customer service and a win-win situation!

Actually, the sale above was even smoother and friendlier than I described it in this short space. Think about this – how far would you go for your customer? Why is it so important to deliver on a promise and deliver the best possible customer service and follow through? Because you want to build a relationship and get repeat business, right?

I never look at a sale as MY sale, I look at it as OUR sale, because in order for the sale to be a great sale, both parties have to win-win and the outcome should be mutually beneficial. I don’t ask my customers “Can I sell you this or that?” I say “How can we work together to assist each other?” And we find the best path.

The car dealership in my personal story above treated me the way I treat my customers. This time around being on the receiving end felt really great. It gave me better insight into how I can continue to treat my customers. Thank you Santa Clarita folks for the lesson!

rock on,