Customer Service: It’s not about NEVER failing

Customer Service: It’s not about NEVER failing

Taking your car to a dealership is usually done with a bit of in trepidation. The inconvenience of having to be without your car for an entire day. The introverts nightmare of having to share a ride back to the office in the morning with a car full of strangers; and then the ultimate pleasure of finding out that the minor service you thought was being done, is now a major cash coma-inducing service! It’s a customer service quagmire.

Typically every dealership I have ever been to has enforced a customer service mantra on their service technicians and customer liason staff. Their sole mission in life is to make your time with them as frictionless as possible while you are forced to be a pedestrian for a day.

In my most recent service with Grand Central Motors; I was reminded that customer service is not about never making a mistake. Customer service is about how you deal with a mistake when it does happen.

The thing we all need to rememebr is that when there are people in the system; human error is going to creep in. Something is going to go wrong.

Setting the Scene

To cut a really long story short; I needed to have the turbo on my Jeep Renegade replaced (through a warranty claim). This was planned and booked in for Thursday morning. I got my Jeep there before 0800 and was succsssfully booked in.

As per usual Grand Central Motors were on form with the staff whom I had intereacted with on prior services remembering who I was and greeting me by name. What’s more it happened to be #MandelaDay and I was offered a complementary muffin (Mandela Day branded) while I waited for my lift back to work.

The rest of the day I was given periodic updates and informed that all was well with my vehicle and that Pheneas was going to fetch me from work around 1630 so that I could collect my car.

Promptly at 1630 Pheneas called to say he was outside and off I went to get my Jeep Renegade with a fresh new Turbo!

I collected my car and was off to face the highway and the barrage of traffic that comes with it at that hour out of Midrand.

I got a few robots away from home and noticed that there was an exhaust smell in the car. Assuming that this might be overfill from the oil top up that would have been needed; I shrugged it off for the time being.

The next robot was not so calm. Smoke was pouring through the cabin vents and spewing out from under the bonnet. I feverishly checked through the temperature stats and warning lights on the dash and everything was very much in the green. I limped the last few kilometres home. Hoping, praying and cursing all the way.

When the smoke cleared after I opened up the bonnet; there was oil literally everywhere. I thought the worst and was ready to spill the blood of my Jeep Service Technician.

The Stress Response

I immediately called Grand Central Motors Jeep! The phone is already on the night line. They have closed for the day (admittedly 15 minutes earlier than advertised).

I started trawling through emails to find a cell number I could track someone down on! Nothing. Not a cell number in sight.

I was ready to spit blood; so I took to my computer and wrote a less than thrilling email to Grand Central Motors… I would paste a copy of it here; but this blog is generally safe for sensitive viewers.

There was nothing left to do but put newspaper under my Jeep for the evening (a pose usually designated to Land Rovers) and wait until morning.

my Jeep needs to be house trained again. The oil stained newspaper the morning after.

The Shining Light of Customer Service

At 0702 the next morning my phone rang. It was Hennie, my service technician. He sounded like a man who had just watched a horror movie, with the lights off.

The first thing he did was tell me that they have my problem in hand.

  • He had already spoken to the towing service who were en route to collect my Jeep. He just wanted to confirm my address
  • They will then assess and diagnose the problem by 11.
  • If they could not fix the problem that day; he would arrange a courtesy car for me for the weekend.

Lastly he apologised for the problem and confirmed once again that this is not the way that Grand Central Motors opperates. And just like that I was moved from being agressive and confrontational; to understanding and appreciative.

Hennie was on my side; he was helping me solve this problem.

I put down the phone and immediately I got a call from the towing company telling my how far out they were and confirming the drivers name.

customer service driver update

Immediately after that I received the following text notifying me that Christo was on the way; and for extra assurance that my car is not towed by the wrong guy; his truck’s licence plate as well.

Jeep on a flatbed truck
A sad sight for any car owner…

Later that morning I got a call from Hennie confirming that they have found the problem. It was a blown oil seal and a breather pipe that came undone – probably due to the pressure changes. They were working on my car as he was speaking to me and they would definitely have it back to me that day.

By around 1500; Freddy (one of their drivers) dropped my car back at my office and assured me that everything was now working perfectly!

Customer Service Lesson

It’s not about not falling down. It is about how you get up. We have all heard this saying countless times; but it is no less relevant when it comes to customer service. Problems are going to creep in. Mistakes are going to happen.

Instead of being defensive and finding excuses; own up and correct. That’s the secret to fantastic customer service. This is the lesson that Grand Central Motors have clearly learnt and have very successfully put into practice!

They have certainly impressed me and will keep me as a client for as long as my Jeep Renegade continues to giving me many miles of driving pleasure!

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