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Customer Service 2

It is common knowledge that cars are often sold more through the service than through their technical qualities, especially because there are no really badly built cars any more. At least, if there are, then they do not stay on the market very long. Therefore, new manufacturers look for competent and committed young independents, who, in their areas of competence, make the vehicles well known more through good service, than through their technical qualities. A perfect customer service is even more important, particularly in view of the rising prices at the car dealers.

In a small company, the generation of customer satisfaction is easier. A phone call is mostly answered by someone in authority, who very often knows the customer personally and his/her car. The appointment arrangements are simple and a replacement vehicle at no charge almost goes without saying, meaning, that this is quite normal. To transfer this situation, one-to-one, to a larger operation with a team of employees, is not that easy.

The phone call, in itself, to a larger car dealer is sometimes a challenge. What use to me is a taped recording saying that one is connected with 'his/her' car dealer, if the actual connection does not take place? Not everybody finds the choice of music pleasant or soothing. Apart from that, the advertising of a new vehicle irritates, particularly if one has a problem with his current car (of the same make). Since what I actually want, is mobility, and not a long wait on the phone!

How pleasant it then is, if a friendly voice gives concise answers. Wonderful, if the telephone call on the other side is also not permanently interrupted by questions from one of their employees. I am spoken to by name (hopefully not too often) and can bring forward my concern without any hustle and bustle. Should my description demand too much technical knowledge, I am offered the possibility of speaking to a more competent colleague. If he/she is not free at the moment, my customer-details are taken down, or compared and if necessary they will call me back.

All in all, I have the feeling that my problem is in good hands and through good repair-preparation, my time is not being wasted. The active proposals over the phone are kept to a minimum and cover strictly the pending work order. If it concerns the finishing touches of a repair already carried out, I feel that one is trying, through even more detailed questioning, to solve the problem finally and if possible, to avoid another repair.

In this case, presumably, the replacement vehicle is also without charge. There is of course, also the possibility of being driven home or to work. The company may even offer the loan of a bicycle for particularly "green" customers. On the appointed day, responsible service technician and I discuss my complicated problem once again. He has the complete history of my car and in the direct reception, he is not afraid to take me under the workshop hoist. If my problem is only small, I could just take my leave directly, thanks to the good appointment preparation.

Although a pick-up date has been agreed on, and various spare parts have already been ordered, due to the tricky nature of the repair, it could take longer than planned. As a precaution, they had earlier mentioned this to me, and they also inform me occasionally to get permission for carrying out further repairs. When fetching the vehicle, the repair and the invoice are exactly explained. Additional defects found, and not yet repaired, are noted on the invoice. Possible money saving solutions are pointed out. Naturally, my vehicle is parked in such a way, that I can drive off without having to manoeuvre it out.

A short phone call, less than one week later, serves to check the success of the repair. Was I satisfied with everything? Are the defects repaired?, or am I still waiting for explanations from the garage? Perhaps I am indeed angry that the invoice was too high. I am glad that this phone call from the garage does not always occur, and then, only once. Perhaps, the manufacturers themselves will get involved, after all, they must have some control over their service quality... 03/10

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