Customer Service in the Motor Industry: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

By 2nd September 2019 August 18th, 2022 No Comments

It’s that time again … time for a new car.

After a house the car is probably the biggest financial purchase you’ll make. I don’t care what anyone says, for most people buying a car is a big deal. You would think that because of the cost associated customer service would be incredible. Hmmmmmm?

Over one weekend I went to three showrooms to compare the three cars I was considering. The three experiences could not have been more different. I’ve decided to chronicle them for you in this and my next two posts. I’ll be finishing with the Good, my next post will be the ugly. Today therefore let’s start with the bad.

The Bad

 So off set my son & I, casually dressed ready for a gentle stroll to find a new car one Sunday morning. It was equally exciting for him, as he’s never been ‘involved’ in the car purchasing decisions (and had to live with the yellow Megane sport many moons ago, although he quite liked my Audi choices). This experience I thought would live with him for years to come, a find memory like the one I have when my dad bought a Morris Marina TC in Lagoon Metallic – yep that had a big impact on me, I can remember it nearly 40 years later.

We arrive at the first showroom. I’m looking for what you might describe as a mid-range executive level car, so you can imagine the type of cars I’m considering.

We parked my car, got out and in we walked. Three sales advisors were hunched around the same desk chatting away, the showroom was very quiet.

My son and I opened and sat in a few cars, admiring the almost cockpit designed interiors. I was surprised that no one came to offer any assistance, but suddenly I noticed one chap about to walk by after about 15 minutes. “Give us a shout if you want any assistance.”

That was it, not a ‘Hello’. Not trying to engage us, it was almost like I’d walked into a clothes shop.

“I would like some help please” I answered.

Slightly surprised he turned and came back. He answered my questions about the various dials and buttons, and described the differences between the two models I was looking at, but that was about all.

When I asked about sorting out a test drive for during the week he answered  “Whenever you like, I work 7 days a week cos I’ve got a big mortgage.” Wow, I was into his life story now.

I asked for a brochure on the two models I had looked at and he brought them back with a business card attached. “Thanks Chris” I remarked, letting him acknowledge the fact that I knew his name (after looking at the business card), but he never even asked mine.

So what were my thoughts?

Well, taking fifteen minutes to approach me in the first place was a disaster. I could’ve been and gone in that time. I don’t know if my casual wear gave the wrong impression but not taking the opportunities when they present themselves could be deadly.  I’m not sure if the salesman has seen the report that females account for over 80% of car purchasing decisions (http://www.forbes.com/sites/sarwantsingh/2014/05/23/women-in-cars-overtaking-men-on-the-fast-lane/)

Secondly in the customer relationship how about matching needs? No effort was made to find what I was looking for and why. Just ‘this does this’ and ‘that does that’. It almost felt like an assumption was made that as a poor helpless woman I needed a man to tell me what engine size meant and where I would fill it up.

Finally there was absolutely no attempt to build any rapport. He never asked my name, didn’t even acknowledge my son. In fact it felt like we were a burden on his conversation with his pals. As you can imagine we won’t be going back.

I find it hard to believe that a prestige marque employs sales people who let customers walk in and out of their showroom without even capturing their basic details. All that money spent on advertising, showrooms and literature wasted through the simple lack of human touch.

What are your thoughts? Ever had that kind of customer service? How would you feel if your staff dealt with customers like that? I’d love your comments on this experience, and indeed if you have had similar yourself.