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Customer touch points can be make or break

Today I went to drop my Honda off at a Honda Service Centre for a service. I wanted to share with you my experience so you can see the importance of customer service and that customer touch points give you the opportunity to build your brand or jeopardise it.

The way your customers experience their journey with you, especially in a service based business, is such a powerful way to build brand loyalty and devotion – but so many businesses stuff it up.

Anyway back to my experience. So it’s 8:30am on a Monday morning and I have dropped my son at school and am heading to the Honda Service Centre. My anxiety grows as I try to cross a busy road to find that there is no where to park except crossing a double lane major road and parking on in the small space of in-front of the service centre. I am already stressed.

I go to reception where the front receptionist is on the phone with a bank of calls lined up. I am asked for my registration number which I can’t remember because it is a new car. Another service person searches the paperwork on the desk  and doesn’t find it. I then peek out the window and read the rego number off the car. They find my paperwork.

Then I am asked to sit in the waiting area. I have my car key off my set of keys ready to drop, but I go into the waiting area disappointed that I can’t drop and go. The waiting area is packed.  The TV is on. One guy has his Apple Mac on his knees, two of us are checking our phones and two are watching TV. Looking around it feels like a doctors reception. No one looks happy. Most people look like they have been waiting a while. They do have a coffee and tea area but you have to walk around too many people to get to it and it looks like that hot water instant stuff so I don’t bother.

After 20 minutes I am asked not by name but my registration number to come through. I walk 10 steps to a table where the service man asks tells me about what they are going to do in the service.

I stop him. What is your name. He answers, “Peter”, “Well Peter, I have been waiting like I suspect most people in the waiting room to drop off my keys for 20 minutes. I was wondering if there is a faster way that we can drop off our keys and not be kept waiting to go through this process.” Peter explained to me that he needs to get my signature on the the service paperwork. He also explains that it is something that management has put in place and almost washes his hands of it.

I explain from the customer’s point of view it is very annoying and while most car service centers might be the same, it doesn’t mean it is a great experience. I ask if there is a better time to drop off and pick up to avoid the wait.On deeper probing I find out that there is a solution. There’s an express service which allows you to drop off your keys in an envelope and write a note about contact details and service and leave it through their glass door. Eureka!

I was happy there was a better process but I had to ask for it. I said thank you and left.

See the problem and opportunities with this customer experience?

Let’s go through it.

1.  I could have been give the Express option on the phone when I booked my service in. This would have been a fantastic benefit to me as a busy small business. Tick one!

2. The parking. This could be assisted by providing some alternative parking on the other side of this busy road and or looking at a parking solution with another company on the same side.  Even being given notice about this before the drop off would have been better

3.  The receptionist could ask for my name not registration. Firstly, I’m likely to know this and secondly, it’s more personal.

4.  The waiting area could be fitted out with the tools and convenience that busy people need. A window area could be fitted out with wireless connection and power for computers or mobile browsing. The coffee could been more visible and clearly having someone make you a cappuccino would be delightful instead of the watered down stuff

5.  The service person who eventually called for me could of again used my name! Rather than explain what the service department was going to do (at all but if this is a requirement then first) he could have asked, “Do you have any concerns with the car?” He did do this last. He should also introduce himself by name. Peter did ask when I would like to pick up the car which was considerate but he could have increased my confidence and experience if he has said, “Danielle, I am sorry you have had to wait and I am glad you now know of the Express Drop off option, I will ensure that we have your car ready at 2pm for collection.”

How many opportunities were missed in this experience? What is more concerning is that having had that experience a few times, this service centre is at risk of people opting for a no-name service centre to do the servicing. It doesn’t take much to think about the small ways to improve your customers experience. Map out the touch points that can really make or break your experience.

Done well, you can create a real point of difference that will keep your customers coming back time after time even with premium pricing. Done poorly and you run the risk of them seeking out alternatives. I have no doubt Honda Service is charging a premium and you know what I am happy to pay it, but come on guys you need to vastly improve your process or I for one will be checking out my options!