Best Practices

Satisfy Me!

Poor Customer Satisfaction

It’s what every customer wants, to be satisfied!

The point became very evident to me one day during a recent business trip.

On my way to visit a client, I found myself at the Atlanta airport searching for a quick bite to eat. I jumped in line at a Sbarro, ready to order a slice of pizza. There were several people in front of me and I noticed things were not moving very quickly. The pizzeria was staffed with four people, but only one person was taking orders, the same person was also fulfilling the orders and then working the cash register. Now I like a get it done person just as much as the next person, but in this case the one employee was not getting the job done. A South American tree sloth would have beaten this woman in a speed contest.

I started to notice other customers in line and they were all displaying signs of frustration and aggravation. Several customers behind me jumped out of line and gave their business to another eatery.

I then started observing the other three employees. One was assembling pizzas while the other two seemed to be doing meaningless stuff as they engaged in conversation. This staff of four might have thought they were doing their job, but to me they were failing miserably. Without satisfied customers, pizza making becomes irrelevant, since eventually there will be no customers in line to make the pizzas for.

Unfortunately many of us experience this type of service on a daily basis. I for one am not going to tolerate it anymore. Now that my cell phone has Socialcam installed (thanks Todd Smith), I’ll be making videos of poor experiences like this one and sharing them on YouTube. As Brain Pasch mentioned in his recent article, ZMOT (zero moment of truth) is going to have a big influence on consumers as they choose whom to do business with. I’ll enjoy helping be the demise of a poorly performing business so that the doors can be opened for those who do want to satisfy their customers!

So why share this story? This is a huge opportunity for us to improve how we handle our customers. I am not only talking about dealerships, but I am also talking about the vendors who sell to dealers. We’ve recently seen a few vendors take a bashing on the public forums and they too need to act. To keep this article focused, I’ll keep my suggestions geared for the dealer.

These are some of the more common areas where dealers fail to satisfy customers:

  1. Internet leads going unanswered for hours
  2. Unattended chat sessions
  3. Customers struggling through a phone system trying to reach a real person
  4. Service customers waiting to talk with a service advisor
  5. Customers waiting to pay their bill at the cashier
  6. Customers expecting to be followed up with and never receiving a phone call
  7. Sales processes taking too long
  8. Oil changes that take two hours

The list could go on and on, but you get the point. Every customer touch point needs to be examined and processes need to be put in place to meet the expectations of our customers. Get this right and prosper.

Every employee needs to be on the lookout for disgruntled customers, you’ll know them by their body language and facial expressions. If you’re reading about it online, then it’s too late, you’ve failed! If you see somebody constantly looking at their watch, then it’s time to act. A great place to start is with a simple apology. Engaging a customer in conversation will put them at ease. Cross train your employees to help others during peak busy times.

Most importantly, each employee needs to treat his or her job like it was their own prospering business. Take pride in what you do and fulfill your responsibilities. Try to give every customer a “wow factor.” What’s a “wow factor” you ask? It’s going above and beyond the expectations of what your customers expect and providing an even greater service.

To summarize this article, here’s a great quote from Jack Welch: “Only satisfied customers can give people job security. Not companies.”

The automotive industry is filled with mediocrity; the time to act is now!

Great story Jerry, I just experienced the same thing this weekend at a BestBuy. Below is the letter I sent to Brian Dunn CEO of the company. I am waiting to see if he responds. 

I wonder how many times a day this happens at a car dealership?

Your story is spot on. This also opens the discussion of reputation management, or should it really be process management to create satisfied customers (Raving Fans) and you will have a great reputation. 

Mr. Dunn,I have been a Best Buy customer for years. That probably has come to an end as of today. My wife and I visited your Monroe NC store this afternoon with the intent to purchase a laptop for my youngest daughter's 17th birthday. We spent over 20 minutes standing int he same isle going from laptop to laptop without a single sales rep asking us if we need help. After less than 10 minutes my wife and I had decided on which machine we wanted to purchase. After continuing to be ignored we decided to use the computer we wanted to buy to shop on since they are in the same shopping center as your store. I did not find what I was looking for there, so we starting shopping on where we found the exact same Toshiba computer. The Walmart in Monroe NC did not have the machine in stock but, the Walmart in Indian Trail did. (5 miles away). Once again I found all this out, while standing in the computer department of your Bestbuy store using a Bestbuy display model laptop. (while being ignored by the staff) Once I completed my research, we went to the geek squad counter and asked for the manager. The gentleman behind the counter radioed for the manager and we were approached by a young woman. I think her name was Jennifer. I am not 100% of that since she did not introduce herself, I think that is what i remember from when the gentleman called for her. Worse than the fact that we were ignored, when I brought it to the attention of the person whom I was told was the store manager, her exact words reply when I explained the situation and that we were leaving and going to Walmart were "Oh OK". That was it and she let us walk. Not only did she not apologize, she did nothing to try and save or earn my business. I remember this type of service happening to me a few times at Circuit City, and I walked out of those stores then too. We both know what happened to that company. If Bestbuy continues to treat customers like I was treated today, your company won't be far behind. Lloyd Hecht - PresidentSales ShifterMonroe, NC [email protected]
  • J
  • October 3, 2011
Nicely stated, Jerry.  Does this situation seem to be more prevalent today than, say, we remember in our youth?  Or has it always been that way?  Seems to me to be more so the norm now -- like the "olden days" were better.  But I wonder if that's really true?

We've had fun teasing our GEN Y friends and commenting on their lack of (in-person) social skills.  And while it's a gaff to tease the young people of today -- call 'em whatever -- I can't remember being too socially gifted myself -- and most of my friends even less so back in the day.  So maybe this is somewhat of an all-time, all-youth situation?

One thing that I think we can't deny: consumer expectations today are at an all-time high!  I've mentioned this a few times on this blog: we live in the Speak Into the Clown's Face Culture.  Give the clown your order for burgers and fries, and pull around to the window for your instant gratification.  Imagine the angst of having to wait 5 whole minutes for your Big Mac -- just 5 minutes, and people are squirming in their seats, furious!  That's a new phenomena -- last 20 years, maybe 30, tops.  

Instant check-out at the grocery store, overnight shipping, delivery in 30 minutes or less... have we become a culture of Entitled Citizens?  Are we all spoiled? 

Do we all need to take a step back and Smell the Roses?

One or the other, or more likely, a combination of eroding customer service skills meeting an increasingly stressed and entitled population brings us to where we are today: another opportunity for you to distance yourself from the fray.

Thanks again Jerry!
  • J
    Jerry Thibeau
  • October 3, 2011
@John:disqus , I know people had better work ethic 20 years ago than they do today.  Everyone thinks they deserve a job, but in reality that's not the case.  People should always be striving to get to the next level instead of just trudging along to collect a paycheck.  We see this all to often in today's world.  It's sad to watch our government help contribute to this epic failure!

@Sales Shifter,  Funny I was in Best Buy yesterday and experienced something very similar.  Good for you!