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When Exceptional Customer Service Is Not Enough

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Joe Marconi

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A good customer called me the other day to let me know that he has concerns regarding the quality of our work. Last week we installed an exhaust system on his Maxima and two days later it sounded like the muffler had fallen off. There was so much noise he was afraid to drive the car. We went to his house to pick it up. We found that the baffles had broken apart in the brand new muffler we just installed.

 

About two month ago this same customer had to bring the Maxima back due to a grinding noise from the brakes. We had done front brake pads and rotors a week prior. We replaced the defective pads along with a new set of rotors at no charge and everything was fine, or so we thought. With each incident we did a follow up call to insure that there were no additional issues.

 

Apparently, these two situations did not sit well with this customer. During his phone call he reminded me that he was a loyal customer and that our customer service is exceptional, always going above and beyond the norm. However, he went on to say, "Exceptional customer service can’t make up for the quality of the repairs." He was very candid and honest. He said he would not “jump ship”, but he has concerns, and that if there are any more quality issues, he will look to go elsewhere. He even mentioned the dealer as an alternative to us.

 

I did not make any excuses, only apologized and assured him that we will do our due diligence to find the root cause of these issues. I thanked him for calling me and let him know that most people would not make this call, and how we welcome the opportunity to know how our customers feel.

 

This situation was a real eye-opener for me. I always believed that exceptional service can save you when things go wrong, but obviously this is not necessarily so. There is no doubt that due to our “above and beyond” customer service culture, we are able to sustain most negative cases. But, I guess even the best customer service can’t save a restaurant if the food is continuously bad.

 

I now need to take a more proactive approach with respect to where I purchase my parts. We also need to track every part issue and see if there are any trends or patterns to the failures. We will bring it up to the parts supplier, but if the parts supplier makes no effort to fix the issue, I will have to seek other companies to do business with.

 

In this business climate, too many things can go wrong. We, as business people, need to understand the perspective of the customer. And, no matter how much we preach customer service, the quality of our work is the signature of our brand and our company.

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I have been in the same situation, I had to rethink my pricing strategy and how I sell the work from several incidents like that in the past.

 

Now, I use AC Delco in most vehicles, Napa and the best parts that the customer's budget will allowed with my margin built in.

 

If they want economy parts I note it in the invoice.

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