When I bought my new car not too long ago, I was so impressed about the dealership and the two sales guys that took care of me. They were handling my interest in such a different way than I have otherwise experienced in a US car dealership.
You see normally, my experience is that the car dealers attack you like vultures, give you very sleazy sales pitches, of which you believe no word, often show very little knowledge of their products and when it comes to hackling the price they always have to go off into the little glass box in the middle of the showroom and talk to a manager, before returning to let you know what they can ultimately offer you. A scene that usually takes place a number of times before you end up believing you probably cannot squeeze another dime out of the price.
The problem is, that although I believe myself to be a pretty decent and certainly experienced negotiator, then I invariably leave with a car and still feel a unappreciative sense that “they probably screwed me anyway”. Much the same feeling I get any time I buy an insurance of some sort or a pension solution. I also often leave with the impression that they really don’t care about or for me, and only care about getting that sale done.
Now, with this last car purchase things were different.
I was told upfront that all their prices were an open book price that was available to everyone, not to be negotiated, but already at the very lowest the car dealership could offer. In other words you really didn’t need to waste your efforts or time trying to get a better deal. It’s kinda like going into an Apple store. Did you every think you could get a discount in an Apple store by asking for it? Probably not. It’s very much either take it or leave it.
And so, when they have a great product to sell and you really want it, then you just pony up and sign the deal and drive away in that beautiful new car (or take home that new iPod, iPad or iPhone or whatever from the Apple store).
The no-bs pricing structure actually leaves you feeling reassured that that’s probably the fair price then for a great product and that you probably won’t be able to do much better anywhere else anyways and that you can trust this place as opposed to all the other dealers and stores that still haven’t gotten it.
What then you still look for, is the level of service and the way they treat you and talk to you and possibly a number of other factors. So these factors become even more important now as an added reassurance that you are dealing with the right people, store and company.
Now this particular dealership placed a lot of emphasis on customer satisfaction and service levels and it was apparent. In fact on the first day I visited this dealership (a BMW dealership), the same morning just moments before walking in, I had just come from a Chevrolet dealership to inquire about the new Corvette.
The difference in service and attitude and demeanor of these two stores were remarkable.
At the Corvette dealership I entered and walked resolutely towards one of the two Corvette vehicles in the showroom. There was a Salesguy busy with a client at one of the Corvettes so I went to the other one. I snapped some images with my camera and some with my iPhone and I sat in the car checking it out. I opened the hood and looked at the engine and I walked around the car a few times.
There were two other salesguys at the perimeter of the showroom, chatting with each other killing time and there were other employees around too. Now, while I appreciate that I wasn’t attacked by vultures hoping to get my money, I still was a little surprised that no one spoke to me or directed their attention to me, especially seeing that I took such interest in the car.
In fact it wasn’t until I walked out of the showroom that one of the salesguy asked me if I had any questions. I almost didn’t bother at this time, but thought I would ask a few things. It became apparent that the guy knew very little about anything really. I inquired about different engine sizes either available now or in the future (as has usually been the case with Corvettes). He knew nothing and tried to talk his way around this and other questions. He made another mistake too, which was basically showing hunger for getting potentially another sale, but at the same time probably didn’t think that I could buy a car like that (yeah, that kind of attitude shows). A test drive wasn’t possible of course. Well, I walked and drove straight over to the BMW dealership who gave me a much different experience.
You see, the very first time I walked into the BMW dealership I had taken but 3 or 4 steps in and the receptionist got off her chair and walked towards me, graciously and smilingly greeting me and inquired how she could help and what I would be interested in. In addition she offered me a bottled water or a coffee. After telling her the car type that I was considering she summoned a nice gentleman who guided me through the dealership and the differences that they offered and how they did things.
We discussed the car I was interested in and after a little bit he found one in inventory and let me have a test drive – more than one hours worth that took me onto highway and into smaller winding mountain roads. Wasn’t too scared when I tested out the motor a bit and allowed me to do a serious brake test.
Two dealerships – two very different experiences for sure.
I didn’t buy a car right there and then though.
But at any rate, I entered the BMW dealership a few weeks later again. My salesguy wasn’t in yet, so they handed me over to another one. Just as nice and courteous.
Luckily they had a brand new car of the model I was interested in that had just come in to their inventory. I figured I just needed to do a little test drive just to be sure and so we did. This guy was probably less adventurous as they first salesguy, and I keep laughing of this, but as soon as I hit the accelerator in a big time on the highway, he kinda went pale and in as controlled demeanor as he could said that we should probably take the next exit and turn back to the showroom. Too funny.
At any rate, we came back to the showroom and I said let’s do it. An hour later I handed over a cashiers cheque for the full amount (incidentally almost twice the price of the Corvette) and could drive home in my new car.
Great experience all around buying this car.
A week later or so, they two salesguys even sent me a handwritten appreciation note thanking me for the purchase.
The experience and entire handling of me as a customer for a high end product impressed me and I posted a notice to this effect to 4,000 friends on Facebook for others to be inspired with.
A week later or so, I took the car in to have film installed on the windows and a protective film on the front of the car and to treat it with a special protection coat. All as according to the deal and plan I had made with the salesguy at time of buying the car and everything booked with the department who would handle this (was even introduced to them and all).
They took in the car and told me it would probably a full 24 hours before job was done and it would be OK to take it out into changing weather. That was to be expected and all OK, I even let them have it for one more day, just to make sure.
The problem was that when it came to time for me to pick it up again, they still hadn’t called me to let me know it was ready. So instead I called them. Found out they really hadn’t done squat with the car in all that time. Apparently, they still hadn’t the film shipped in, even though that was ordered at the time when I bought the car and ordered the extra protective work. It was now weekend, so they would have to order it come Monday and then we would have to await delivery and then miss the car for another couple of days for the work.
What really made me wonder was why the heck they hadn’t called me as soon as they learned they had messed up. Instead I was without the car for a few days, wasn’t told anything was a miss before I inquired myself at the time it should all be ready and ready for pick up (at which time they actually still couldn’t tell me anything).
It was completely like the left hand didn’t know what the right hand was doing.
Well, OK mishaps happens.
But what really wasn’t alright, was the fact that subsequently, I told first the one salesguy about it and how I found this was very unfortunate for a company that took customer service seriously. I suggested they would have their quality control and service person call me so that I could walk them through everything and so that I could give them my suggestions for how to do better in these regards. He never called.
I also told the other salesguy (pretty much same conversation) and I told the guy who kindly gave me the full intro to the car (where buttons for this, that and the other was in the car – yeah, it’s highly technological and advanced). However, no one seemed to take this OPPORTUNITY to make the right person call me up and make a wrong really right and turn a bad experience into an awesome experience and turning this customer into a raving customer. Big mistake.
Remember, when you made some bad customer mistakes and when you get complaints, this in fact is your best opportunity to turn customers into absolute raving fans. Well, they missed that opportunity.
As you will recall, I posted my happy experience to 4,000 connections. That’s awesome for them. But this long report (way longer than the one little image I posted with the good buy experience) will go out to same 4,000 connections, but in addition to well over 12,000 other connections on another platform – 12,000 connections linked to 24 million people and of course it will now sit on my website for who knows how long and visible to anyone and everyone who comes by (this number might be higher than you think it is). This is in no way to make some sort of retribution or to punish the dealership, but more in order for me to relay the importance of recognizing your best opportunities for turning customers into raving customers and turning bad experiences into awesome experiences. There’s a good lesson her, so I hope that you take it to heart for your business.
We touched on this same subject in one of the businesses I run, RetailWise USA, in a new post of today called: Are You Listening Or Just Hearing?
Much shorter post, but worth reading.