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True Stories: “They treated me as if they didn’t need my business.”

Customer on phone upset
Article Highlights:

  • Service experiences weigh heavily on where a customer buys her next car.
  • "It was as if their busyness was my problem!"

More than half of consumers will stop buying from a retailer after a bad customer service interaction. And, nearly 40 percent will avoid a retailer two or more years after a bad customer experience, according to Zendesk.

I talked to a car owner who stopped servicing her vehicle at the dealership because of poor customer service. That negative experience is also influencing her choice of where to buy her next car. Here is Laura’s story:

Trusted relationships

“When I bought my Pontiac Vibe, my plan was to take great care of my new car and ‘drive it ’til it dies.’

Over the years, I took my car back to the dealership for routine maintenance, and I built a good relationship with the service team.

That all changed when the Pontiac brand was sunset by GM.

New service team disappointment

Since the Vibe’s near “twin” is the Toyota Matrix and this dealership also sold Toyotas, I assumed the Toyota service department would treat me like the Pontiac one did.

That wasn’t the case. Where I had felt welcomed and appreciated by the Pontiac team, the Toyota team treated me as if they had enough business. They didn’t need mine, too.

For starters, it was inconvenient to schedule an appointment. I tried their online service appointment system, but it didn’t work. If my assigned service advisor wasn’t there or busy when I called for an appointment, no other advisor could help me. I had to leave a message for my advisor to call me back. Very inconvenient.

Second, when I brought my vehicle in for service, each interaction felt cold and rushed. It was as if their busyness was my problem!

Plus, even though I stated my concerns when I made appointments over the phone, my service advisor didn’t always have a full record of my requests. I wasn’t confident the service department would address my concerns or treat my vehicle with care.

Finally, if I wanted to wait during my appointment, I had to be prepared to do just that: wait. Saturday appointments had to be booked about a month in advance. Not to mention, the average wait time on a Saturday was at least an hour – even for a basic oil change and tire rotation. Good thing the Toyota store added comfier chairs to its renovated customer lounge!

Three strikes, and you’re out

I gave this service department about three visits before I switched to an independent repair shop. At least if I visited one of the ‘mall guys,’ I could shop while I waited.

Based on my service experience, I don’t think I would buy a vehicle at this dealership. If they don’t need my service business, they probably don’t need my new car business either. Too bad because I’ll be in the market for a new vehicle soon.”

Conclusion

The customer experience in the service drive influences customer loyalty and whether customers keep coming back, for both service and sales.

In this case, when Laura’s service experience turned sour, so did her opinion of the dealership.

How’s the experience you’re providing in service affecting your dealership’s vehicle sales potential?

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Director, Brand Marketing, Reynolds and Reynolds

Ashley is Director of Marketing Communications for Reynolds and Reynolds. In her 10 years with Reynolds, she has managed the marketing strategy for several key Reynolds solutions and branding initiatives. Today, she leads the U.S. and Canadian marketing teams to drive brand awareness, product penetration, and content strategy for Reynolds and other key brands within the Reynolds Retail Management System.

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