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Customer satisfaction? It’s the unexpected extras that count

Recently, I had a nasty dent in the rear wing of my car. The insurance company chose the body shop they wanted me to use so I dropped it off. Three weeks and four aborted attempts to return my car later, I finally have it back. The first time, the paintwork was full of bubbles. The second time, the bubbles were gone but it looked like the whole thing had been rubbed with emery paper and left. The third time, the repair was a differentcolour from the rest of the wing, and they had splashed my rear bumper (fender, for the Americans among you!) with grey primer - not a good look for a flame red coupe! The fourth time, they brought the car back with the engine management light on. Suffice to say, I was NOT happy.

Recently, I had a nasty dent in the rear wing of my car. The insurance company chose the body shop they wanted me to use so I dropped it off.

Three weeks and four aborted attempts to return my car later, I finally have it back. The first time, the paintwork was full of bubbles. The second time, the bubbles were gone but it looked like the whole thing had been rubbed with emery paper and left. The third time, the repair was a different colour from the rest of the wing, and they had splashed my rear bumper (fender, for the Americans among you!) with grey primer – not a good look for a flame red coupe! The fourth time, they brought the car back with the engine management light on. Suffice to say, I was NOT happy.

Fifth delivery, and I finally got Mr Tibbs (it's a Hyundai Tiburon – what else would I call it?) back on Tuesday, and as soon as the delivery driver left I went inside to draft a strongly worded complaint. It's all forgotten now though, so what changed my mind?

When I bought my car 3 years ago, the side windows and rear windscreen had a fantastic deep tint to them. It was great for security – I could leave stuff on the seat and you wouldn't be able to see it unless you sprawled across the bonnet (hood!). All that ended a few weeks ago, with a flashing blue light in my rear view mirror followed by a very awkward conversation with the local traffic police.

Apparently the tints weren't a factory fit, as I'd assumed, and they were illegal. Technically, the officer could have impounded my car and sent it to the crusher. I got off with a warning mostly because I ripped the tint off the windows in front of him. Lucky escape.

However, the tint left a very sticky residue on the glass. In the height of summer I was stuck (literally!) with side windows that couldn't be opened. I tried everything to remove it: acetone, paint stripper, glue and tar remover… nothing worked. Hours of fruitless labour just left lots of fibres stuck in the increasingly sticky sticky-stuff!

So imagine my surprise when I went outside for the paperwork to support my complaint and realised that the body shop had carefully removed every trace of the glue when they valeted the car. Now maybe it took 2 hours, maybe it only took 5 minutes. The main point was that they had no reason to. The repair they made was well away from the windows.

In that brief moment of elation and recognition of someone who obviously looked at the car and thought "I can't return it like this, even if it's nothing to do with us," the body shop redeemed itself.

So when things go wrong, as they sometimes do; when errors get compounded, as they sometimes do; when it seems like you might as well just give up and go home in disgrace, remember one lesson: customer satisfaction isn't about never letting them down. It's about how you act when you do let them down.

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