Introduction

Customer Service – How Far Would You Go?

Customer Service – How Far Would You Go?

Several months ago during one of the terrible storms that we had in the northeast, I found my two-week old car underneath a fallen tree.  Fortunately, most of the damage was superficial with the exception of a damaged window pillar, a broken windshield seal, and a smashed sideview mirror.

I took the car to the dealership for repairs and was told it would be completed in a matter of days. Soon, a few days turned into two weeks.  I called the dealership and found out that all of the repairs had been completed with the exception of the sideview mirror.  I was told that the car manufacturer, Subaru, was totally out of stock of sideview mirrors and that it was going to take at least several weeks for a replacement mirror to be shipped to the dealership.

I was livid.  How could a car manufacturer run out of sideview mirrors?  I called Subaru’s North American headquarters and spoke with a senior customer service rep. He told me that they had no good explanation except to say that the new Outback was an extremely successful new car and that as a result, they did not have enough of a parts inventory.  I was incredulous and pressed him for some concessions.  After all, my brand new car was a prisoner in their body shop, and I was not able to drive it…yet I had to continue to make my lease payments to their ‘finance’ division.

I ultimately got the customer service rep to agree to reimburse me for my lease payments while the car was unavailable to me.

A few hours after resolving that with customer service, it dawned on me that it was very unlikely the Subaru assembly line has been shut down because of a lack of sideview mirrors. Assuming this to be the case, why couldn’t Subaru simply go to an assembly line, take a sideview mirror, ship it to New York, install it on my car and make me happy?  It seemed like the perfect solution and it would save Subaru my lease payments because I would get my car back much more quickly.  It makes sense, doesn’t it?  Now I wondered how Subaru would respond.  After all, this was the sixth Subaru that I was leasing from them.  I would expect that they would go to all ends to keep such a loyal customer happy.

I called the Subaru customer service rep and presented him with this idea.  His response, “We can’t do that. We would never do that”.  Incredulous, I asked, “why not?”.  I had been a loyal customer for more than 15 years.  “Why would you risk angering me and miss an opportunity for a customer service coup?”  Still, the response was basically no way! There is no way that we can take one sideview mirror from the assembly line and send it to you to satisfy your situation…end of conversation!

As a small business owner who credits himself with going to all ends to provide top-level customer service to my clients, I cannot understand why Subaru would not take this very simple step to make a very loyal customer happy and to really show the customer that they go beyond the norm to make things right.

How far would you have gone?  How far do you go to your customers?  Will they rave about your service?

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