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True Story: “Calling the dealership was worse than my scratched up car.”

Scratched car
Article Highlights:

  • An experience I’ll never forget, but not in a good way.
  • Connecting your dealership helps connect you to your customers.

What’s a place you call or visit often? Your hairdresser, your pets’ groomer, your insurance agent, your gym? They know you, right? They know your name, your address, your family members, details of your last visit, how often you come in; the list goes on. Surely, your dealership would be the same way…

That was not the experience I received when I recently called my local dealership. I had one simple question, but it turned into a fifteen minute long conversation that left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I’ll explain.

My daughter loves to ride her bike. She’s gone up and down the driveway and around the neighborhood too many times to count. The countless times she’s gone on a joy ride means there are countless times she’s pulled her bike in and out of the garage. If you have kids, I’m sure you know where this is going. She’s a kid – she’s not the best at paying attention and being careful.

My daughter pulling her bike in and out over the years resulted in my wife’s Nissan Pathfinder taking a hit or two. Over time, we were noticing scratches along the side. Once it was fairly noticeable, I decided to call the dealership where we bought and continue to service it to see if they had any touch-up paint in stock.

I dialed into the parts line, which was simple. I thought my question was easy – “Do you have touch-up paint available for a 2013 gray Nissan Pathfinder?”

The woman on the other end of the phone replied with a question, instead of an answer. “Do you have the VIN? I need that to find the correct paint color.”

I was on the road, so I wasn’t able to rattle it off. “I don’t, but I’ve serviced the vehicle there several times in the past six years. Are you able to look the VIN up?”

Wishful thinking. “My system in parts doesn’t link to the system in service. To get the VIN, I would need to transfer you to service so you can ask them. Then, they can transfer you back here.”

At this point, my mind is spinning. One dealership operating with different systems that don’t communicate with one another? Maybe I can try another route. “Okay, how about this. Can you look up paint colors instead? It was the only gray Pathfinder made in 2013.”

More bad news. “No, sorry. I don’t have that capability. Would you like me to transfer you?”

I had no other choice. I was transferred to service, then back to parts, with a few minutes of hold in between. We were able to come to a resolution (they thankfully had some touch-up paint in-stock), but that’s not the point of the story.

I called directly into the department I expected was going to help me, and help me quickly. Instead, it was back and forth banter, and I was passed around between departments. For some simple $13 touch-up paint, my experience turned into one I will never forget. And not in a good way.

If the departments in your dealership aren’t communicating, how do you think that translates to your customers’ experiences? Consumers expect sharp, quick, and easy from every interaction. An integrated phone system connecting all aspects of the dealership would have made my experience as a customer much smoother and helped solve these bottlenecks I was experiencing.

The dealership would have been able to greet me by name, and know what vehicle I was calling about – mine or my wife’s. My VIN would have been at their fingertips – from any department. My paint color would have been a few clicks away through searchable inventory. It’s little things like this that contribute to the overall experience – not just for me, but for any consumer.

I see bottlenecks like this every day at a lot of different dealerships, but it’s not okay to continue doing business this way if it’s affecting the way your customers perceive you.

Had the dealership had a phone system that streamlined the process of finding information, I would have been on my way in just a few minutes and you probably would have never heard my story. I suppose the saying is true, “you’re more likely to tell someone about a negative experience than a positive one.”

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Communications Specialist

Geoff has been with Reynolds and Reynolds for 22 years, holding various sales and supervisory roles. As a Texas A&M University graduate with a degree in Speech Communication, Geoff is currently a Communications Specialist covering the southeast. He has been married to his wife, Juana, for 23 years and has one daughter, Kaitlyn.

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