Solomon Bruce Consulting Blog

Monday, March 15, 2010

Customer Confidence-- Do you ensure it every day?

  I had to buy some tires last week for my car.  I went to a local tire store that I had been recommended to go to by local medial professional.  According to this medical professional, this tire store was the best in town.  Taking that advice, I stopped at the store, ascertained that the correct size tires were available, the price was competitive and the service time was acceptable.  I left my car, attended to other business matters and returned several hours later, ostensibly ready to drive home.  However, we began to encounter a series of "glitches"!
  The first glitch was that the computer would not accept the serial numbers of the tires.  After a few minutes, the manager came to me, red faced, and said that they had installed the wrong size tires on the car.  OK, glitches happen, what did we need to do to fix it.  Leave the car for another hour and the correct tires would be put on the car.  Well, OK, I needed the tires, people make mistakes, go ahead and fix the problem.  While I was there, the tire shop manager said that the brakes were in need of repair as well. 
   I did know that the brakes were needing repair, however, what I did not know was that, according to the shop, I needed not only brake pads, but new rotors and calipers as well.  Swallowing hard after hearing the price, I said go ahead, knowing that the car needed the brakes.
    Now, it was 7 PM when I returned to get the car.  After I paid the bill, I got into the car.  I instantly knew that we had problems.  The car sounded like an old International Harvester truck that we used to have on the farm.  Something was not correct.  I drove the car home, frustrated that something was wrong. 
    I took the car back a couple of days later  for "checking".  What the shop told me was that they had improperly put the car on the lift, bent a piece of metal underneath the car, knocked the muffler out of the bracket and had to replace the real brake pads with Original Equipment Manufacturer parts.  WOW!  Whatever confidence I had in this shop completely dissipated.  Tomorrow, I am going to the dealer to see what other damage might have been caused by this shop.
   What if this shop was yours.  How would you handle this matter?  How do you handle matters when the shop made grievous errors of procedure?  Interestingly, the shop was very willing to admit that they goofed up, but did not seem how to "fix" the problem.  The shop foreman told me that they had quality control checks all around and he was surprised that this challenge happened to me.  My unspoken question was how did the shop function in the first place?  Are you out on the floor each and every day watching what your employees are doing?  Do you hear customer complaints immediately?  Do you try to resolve these complaints as soon as possible?
   The shop manager was proud of the work being "guaranteed".  Of course, it really makes no difference now, I will never go back to invoke the "guarantee".  I have lost full faith and confidence in this business.  Sadly, I should not have lost that faith.
   I would strongly suggest that you review your policies and procedures when glitches inevitably occur.  After all, we are all humans.  However, I think that the glitches at the tire store are representative of a much greater challenge.  Business is hard to keep.  Forcing customers away from your business after you have tried everything to get customers to come in is futile.  A good procedure check is necessary in times such as these.



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