TSI Blog

What the Car industry can learn from Hospitality about great customer service

February 6th, 2014 by Gary Cattermole

As is well documented, purchasing a car is likely to be one of the bigger purchases we make in life, in the UK the average price of a car is now at £27,219 – not an insubstantial amount of money.

Now you would like to think that when spending this sort of money, the level of customer service would be high, in fact very high.

Well, this doesn’t always appear to be the case.  I would like to share with you two recent examples to demonstrate the rather glaring difference in levels of customer service.

Hotel/ Hospitality approach to customer service

I had the pleasure recently of staying at a Hotel overnight in London, for the night including breakfast it was a shade over £300 (more than a Travel Lodge but less than many other London Hotels).

Now, from the moment I arrived to well after I left, the customer service was just excellent, from the concierge to the reception staff, to the handmade biscuits by the Chef and the complimentary (yes, I know it will be factored into the price of the stay!) champagne – it was wonderful.  The staff could not do enough and even the resident pianist managed to say hello whilst playing some very pleasant afternoon jazz.

Using the Net Promoter Score, what would I have scored the Hotel? Certainly a 9, if not a 10 – it was simply the best customer service I’ve ever experienced.

Now let’s compare that £300 overnight Hotel stay to the purchase of a new car by my dad.

Car dealerships approach to customer service

So, my father has purchased a new car, he’s spent the best part of £20,000 and has just taken delivery of it.  I won’t say what make or model but it is a very nice car, in fact a lot better than I thought it was going to be.  However, the car itself is not really the story – it’s the customer service (or lack thereof).

My father went to his local dealer to order his chosen car (after extensive research and test drives etc.) – however, he didn’t order the car from his local dealer – he was so poorly treated that he felt he couldn’t trust them.  He was kept waiting for hours as various people from sales, servicing and even managers got involved – losing patience my dad left and the dealer lost the sale.

Driving 50 miles, my dad visited another dealer to order the car – initially all seemed well with the order finally being placed in early November with delivery promised before Christmas.

However, he has only just taken delivery of the car (February) over a month late – my dad has kept me up to date on things and sadly it is clear the dealer did not care – communication has been sporadic, no talk of recompense and what is worse it would appear the dealer has actually had the car for several weeks and still didn’t deliver to my dad, despite his calls to see when he could expect delivery (he is still awaiting an explanation).  In addition, the dealer seemed somewhat surprised when my dad explained that he would not be taking out the additional service plan and nor would he be using the dealer to service the car.

Now, we all appreciate and understand that things do go wrong, nothing is ever perfect.  But the dealership should have gone out of their way to look after their customer, particularly given they had made an error but they didn’t – in fact they appear to have done the opposite.

So, you can see from the above, the stark difference in customer service, what is more, the level of service for a £300 night stay in a hotel far, far outweighs the service when spending nearly £20,000 on a car.

What affect does this have on customer advocacy?  Well, I can tell you that I have been extolling the virtues of the Hotel I stayed at to friends and family – in fact, I felt compelled to write a blog about it here.

My father, well he’s actually been doing the same but from a different perspective – he’s been telling all his family and friends about his poor experience and service.

Which customer would you want talking about your organisation I wonder?

I would be interested to know how the local dealership views customer service and advocacy – would they have been happy with that level of service if they were on the receiving end, I suspect (and hope) not.

One recommendation would be for the dealerships’ manager to go and spend a night at the Hotel I stayed in and experience what great customer service really is.

If you would like to know more about how you can get your employees more engaged at work and how this could improve customer service, please contact us on +44 (0) 1255 850051.

Written by Gary Cattermole
Gary Cattermole is a Director at The Survey Initiative, a dedicated employee research organisation devoted to helping its clients gain insight and understanding into what drives employee engagement in their business. Gary has extensive expertise and experience in a range of employee research techniques from employees surveys and 360 degree feedback to workshop facilitation and action planning sessions, working with a diverse range of clients such as EPSON, Telegraph Media Group, Natural History Museum, AVEVA and Accor. Gary is an avid sports fan, in particular table tennis and football. Visit http://www.surveyinitiative.co.uk for more information.

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Posted by: What the Car industry can learn from Hospitality about great customer service | People DevelopmentPeople Development
February 10, 2014

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