You know the minute you walk into an establishment, the kind of place you have to step up to a counter, I mean you JUST KNOW you are going to receive very bad service. It’s the look on the face, the posture or stance, the attempt at looking immeasurably busy, (certainly much too busy to even acknowledge you) and, lets face it, the obvious toofull-of-self-importance…. but mostly? The lack of eye contact, the compete look of indifference as you approach. But, you take a deep breath and plunge in. Why? Because they have you. That’s their fuel, their power. You have an appointment you need.
Why am I being so harsh, so very critical? Because it happens. Consistently. And there is something just so ridiculous about this. It’s time to talk about it. Why and where does this still happen? Well, let me break it down for you in very simple terms. But first, let me tell my story.
In the small hometown of mine where I spend my summers, I attempt to bring my car in for service before I do the long, looooong, drive back home. I make the appointment which is merely a simple oil change etc. with the local dealership. I decide, as is my way, not to drive into a quick service centre, but to be taken very good care of. What they don't know is that I own more than one very high-end vehicle of their brand. As a matter of fact there are several in my household. They surely don't know what I do for a living (hint: my book Be Ready To Dance With Your Customer). But none of that matters, for, as YOU know, I believe every customer deserves kindness and courtesy no matter who they are.
So the appointment is made for 10 am. I drive in and walk into the service area where one desk stands out, staffed by a woman who is also standing out….on my radar. I walk up, announce myself, and sort of laugh about where I parked. Then, nothing. Nothing but the clackity clack of computer keys being typed on. I could be wrong, and I probably am, but she may have actually looked up for a minute. Clackity clack. A few minutes pass and still nothing. I look around and somewhere further back is another desk with two other people at it. Not saying a word (and neither does she) I pick up my keys and wander to the back. I reach the desk of Mike. He wonders briefly why I have moved on to him, and I casually let him know “she’s busy”. ‘She’ has broken too many rules to be at the helm of customer service but the dealership has broken only one. That we will get into later. Back to Mike.
As an expert I recognize the particular glance Mike sends over to She, and without hesitation lets me introduce myself and gives me his full attention. He is going to see to it that I am looked after and I am sent on my way with a promise of service to be completed ‘somewhere around’ 2 pm as he walks me to the lovely gentleman who will be giving me a courtesy lift home.
It’s now 3 pm. My ride back to the dealership has to get going so, on our way, I call in to inquire about the status of my car. A woman announcing herself as Debbie answers and while she does I silently pray ‘please don't be She, please don't be She’.… It is. This is the conversation:
Me: It’s Shari Moss, I haven’t received a call that my car is ready, but I’m on the way back, can you find out please the status? It’s the red XLR.
She: Your name?
Me: Shari Moss. I need to know when it will be ready, what the status us, I have a very short window to get back to your place so I am on the way. It was to be ready by 2. Ish.
She: dead air space
Me: Are you there?
She: I’m here.
Me thinking: ….no? which question is she answering…more dead air
She: It’s not ready.
Me: I know it’s not ready, I didn't get a call, I want you to go find someone and ask when it’s going to be done, what’s happening (me impatient here), I need to know.
She: I don’t have to. I can look it up on the computer. Clackity Clack. Clackity Clack. It’s not ready. It hasn't gone in yet for service.
Me: It’s just an oil change and coolant flush - what on earth is taking so long? When will it be done, how long does it take….and on and on I ask ….she isn't going to answer, and she isn't going to ask someone. Period. It’s obvious.
Me: Fine, I could've taken it in to a drive in service, I’m coming to get it and take it back, have the keys ready, let them know.
She: Not a problem.
Now, lucky for the Dealer, Mike is still on duty. Not twenty seconds later my phone rings and its Mike. He wants to explain exactly what happened and I let him. Too many travellers in today. Or something. Before I can say anything he has a solution and an update. Love the offer of a solution first. He’s going to give me a car as soon as I get here and I can keep it until mine is ready. Which, he assures me, will be before the local news station interviews me in the morning. He remembered it from our first conversation, he was listening. As I arrive, he greets me promptly, and escorts me to the loaner. It really is a sight, not a car I particularly want to drive away in, and I hesitate but he doesn’t. As he holds the door open he starts the car and once I'm in he adjusts the seat for me while I am still having a questionable look on my face. How could I say no after all his graciousness? He doesn't give me a chance as he closes the door and waves goodbye with a promise of my cars completion by 10 am.
I love Mike. Mike loves me. I will continue to use his service department as long as I can walk in and feel that comfortable again. As for She, I don't need to list the issues, and some are obvious here, but read my book (or reread if you didn't come up with at least FIVE problems) to get all the answers. I often teach my groups to look beyond the obvious and really understand what else is wrong, and how easy it is to miss that it is even happening.
As for the Dealership’s one mistake? Having her on the service desk.
Why do we stand for the them? We honestly don’t feel we have a choice or that it doesn't matter. People, you do and it does. Never be afraid to speak up, never feel bad for challenging an issue. This will go further than just my blog I can assure you. Two can clackity clack, Debbie.