Anatomy of a customer-centric event

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As the playoffs near for the CFL, college, and with the NFL also in full swing south of the border, teams look to assess their performance to ensure they always know what is working and why, and what is not working and how it can be fixed. Over the past few months, I have shared some customer service nightmares and provided some guidance on fundamentals that should be entrenched in every organization to improve their game plans.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 06/11/2021 (386 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

As the playoffs near for the CFL, college, and with the NFL also in full swing south of the border, teams look to assess their performance to ensure they always know what is working and why, and what is not working and how it can be fixed. Over the past few months, I have shared some customer service nightmares and provided some guidance on fundamentals that should be entrenched in every organization to improve their game plans.

This month, we are going to assess the anatomy of a first-class customer interaction and capture the fundamentals this company employed. A colleague provided the details of this story because I have not experienced this level of “owning” a customer interaction like this in quite some time.

My colleague had given a used Toyota RAV 4 to his son, who lives in another province. There were some mechanical problems occurring, so the son contacted his father. It seems the local dealership in a small British Columbia town could not diagnose the exact problem. The father suggested to his son that the local dealership contact the Winnipeg dealership where the vehicle was originally purchased and that had performed all the service work on it.

Not surprisingly, the small dealership did not contact the Winnipeg dealership. So, my colleague went to the Winnipeg dealership and spoke to the service advisor and explained the situation. In a very proactive move, the service provider said, “Well, I will call the other dealership right now.” And he proceeded to make the call.

After hearing all the details, the service adviser did not know the possible solution, so he consulted with one of the mechanics in his service department, who knew exactly what was required. A followup call was made, and the small dealership was told precisely what the problem was and how it could be solved. And it was.

When my colleague asked about the bill, the Winnipeg service adviser said he would pay the other dealership and simply add these charges to his current account. Any work done on his current Toyota vehicle would draw down on the amount. This avoided any one-time payment and was in lieu of warranty.

And because my colleague needed a new vehicle to replace the one given to his son, guess where he purchased his new vehicle?

In football, analysis of the game film illuminates both good plays and bad plays. Let’s look at the game film of this customer service experience from three key perspectives.

First, we have a situation where an employee owns the interaction with the customer. Owning a situation to conclusion is a customer service fundamental. The service adviser was decisive and took complete control of the situation on behalf of his customer. He then used his experts to help resolve the problem. The service adviser recommended a course of action that was reasonable and addressed the issue. And this was for a vehicle in another province.

Second, the problem was solved by bringing in an additional expert. The service adviser did not know the exact solution to the problem, so he brought in a mechanic who knew exactly what was required. Specialists are important in any business and must be used accordingly.

Finally, the service adviser solved the immediate issue with no strings or requirements for anything further on behalf of the customer. In football, players are coached to deal with the current play because that is all they can control. In this situation, the service adviser was not expecting anything extra from the customer in the future. However, because of his terrific efforts, the customer made an investment in a new vehicle. This is a powerful example of what a long-term view of a customer relationship can provide.

Yet, this still begs the question of why do we not hear more stories like this where someone went above and beyond their job description? How can we create a culture where people care about every customer interaction?

The answer lies in the leadership in a company realizing that they do not have every answer. Terrific employees are recruited and nurtured with care, so that they can provide a level of care for their customers. This situation exemplifies true empowerment and trust at work. When an employee refers to you as “their customer” they have established ownership of your well-being. This is what the service adviser did for my colleague.

Tim’s bits: When assessing the three key success factors in this example, I am most impressed with the approach of the service advisor taking charge of the situation. Hiding behind red tape or reasons like “it’s not my job” would not have resolved the situation. He owned it. And the successful outcome means readers can take heart that great service experiences do exist, while business leaders can see what they should be striving for in supporting their front-line employees to own every customer interaction.

Tim Kist is a Certified Management Consultant, authorized by law, and a Fellow of the Institute of Certified Management Consultants of Manitoba.

Tim Kist

Tim Kist
Columnist

Tim is a certified management consultant with more than two decades of experience in various marketing and sales leadership positions.

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