My car has been recalled. Again. I call GM, make an appointment and arrive at squinty-eye o’clock as rush
hour traffic drives itself into fury. The dealership is for Cadillacs and my car is not. . . not even close. It’s in good shape, gets 30 miles to the gallon (not in city traffic, though), has 125,000 miles on it, and has not cost me a lot in repairs. It’s small, so I can parallel park it in short spaces, and I’m happy with it. But it’s not impressive. It’s transportation. Basic transportation. But dependable.
Several people have told me that if I want to look successful, I should not drive this (as someone actually said) “secretary’s car.” As none of my clients speak to me through drive-in windows, and not a single client has asked me what kind of car I drive in the last 10 years, and clients don’t ask me to drive them around, I don’t see the point in owning a larger car. Mine is paid for.
In the service bay, there is silence. The floor is not concrete, it is herringbone-laid brick. It is spotless and dust-free. There are service units lined along in rows, and each one has a service manager in it. Wearing a long-sleeved shirt, tie and suit. (They all happen to be men.) Steve comes up to me and asks how he can help. I hand him the recall letter and tell him I have an appointment. He is polite and smiles and after several computer clicks tells me the car may have to stay overnight, depending on the availability of the part needed.
I smile, and in a self-deprecating way say that I suppose the Cadillac version won’t fit my car. He smiles again and says that it’s not the make of car, it’s the amount of inventory, but the piece will be available at one of their “sister shops.” No snarky comment on my car. No raised eyebrows of disdain.
Five hours later, Steve calls and says the car is ready. No charge, of course. I pick up the car and it’s washed. Having a dust-free car, even for a few hours, is a treat in Phoenix. I thank him for not making fun of my car or demeaning me, and he looks shocked. Genuinely. “Everyone who comes here depends on their car,” he says. (No, I would not correct his grammar, not under any circumstances.) “We try to do the best repair job for every car. It’s not the person’s clothes, or their money, or their status we look at. We look at people as clients, and we would like them to be happy. A happy client is a returning client.” To say nothing of a referring client and buy-another-car-from-this-place client.
That is possibly the best definition of customer service I’ve heard. And someone who understands how to make a customer happy–by delivering dignity and fast, polite service.
Customer service is not about selling anyone anything. It’s done best by giving good example and treating people with dignity and kindness and good product service. The rest will take care of itself.
—Quinn McDonald loves being on the receiving end of excellent customer service. It’s rare, because it has to be genuine.