It is about the experience. As savvy consumers we all know this. It is totality of each and every experience “micro-moment” that will take us (the customer) from awareness to adoption to advocate. Or not. As I have discussed so many times. All “moments” matter. Every engagement opportunity. Being fully aware that any one point will be that catalyst, positive or negative. (A great read – 212: The Extra Degree by Samuel L. Parker). You throw COVID into the experience economy – the “experience” expectation bar is raised!
Bad then awesome – first the bad.
Let’s talk cars. Oh, how we loath the visit to the service department. What are they going to soak me with this go-round? I know cars so I am ruthless about what they find. I would hate the experience even more if I wasn’t (which is hard to imagine).
North Carolina, we make the annual visit appointment to get the state inspection done so we can renew our State tags. As a planner, I usually give myself a few weeks breathing room to juggle all things life and sneak that appointment in. With COVID – closed. Weeks become days. Finally – appointment made (getting close to tag expiration) morning set aside and trek made. (Not calling the dealer out (Volvo on Independence in Charlotte)). I make the 40-minute drive – to be greeted by a service bay staffed by no masks. No separation visible. Almost like COVID wasn’t even a “thing”. Not going to debate the pros/cons/necessities of masks and social distance protocols – but as a business, “climate” mandates you error on the side of caution and respect for the customer. Micro-moments. It shows you care and value the client! Whether the mask works or not. How you feel about it or not. It is not about you. It is about the customer! The “climate” mandates erring on the side of caution. Let’s add a bit more fuel to the fire. The “APPOINTMENT” was for my State inspection. Doing what I can to keep my distance checking-in only to find that the machine is actually broken and has been for a few days. I mean this visit is already going so well, why not just hit a home run. Of course I ask if they felt that maybe they should have “given me a call” saving me the trip, instinctively knowing the response would be far from “we tried”. “Oh we didn’t think to do that. We can still do the oil change.” … Oh boy. Yeah buddy should have just saved that one. Not worth the mask less air.
Not only did this Volvo dealer blow their “We Care” moment (The website says they are “Doing what we can – because we care” by the way), they didn’t think it prudent to give me a call to tell me their machine was down. The purpose of my visit! Heard of a computer and scheduler? It can surely check off things you want to charge me for – I bet there is a flag for “State Inspection”. The COVID visit is (was) already a navigational nightmare. A wasted trip?! Seriously. Strike 2. Tapped out. Not going back. Ever. Consumer experience “F”.
Now – the AWESOME!
There is nothing more beneficial then raw feedback. Unfiltered. Good, bad, whatever. We dread the bad – love the good; it all matters. As complicated as we make it – regardless of industry – we are all in the cheeseburger business. It is the experience that sets us apart. That $14.00 cheeseburger sucks a little less if the experience rocks. Raw feedback is all we have to keep an edge. This “experience” was worthy of my feedback. I go right to the Head of North American Volvo (love LinkedIn). Within an hour – I have a call from a Volvo Market Manager. Acknowledgement of my situation (clarity), genuine empathy (defused) – and a resolution proposal. Wow – a very enjoyable call. Within 15 minutes of that call – a call from the GM of another Volvo dealer in my area. Appointment set. Then a follow-up call from the Market Manager recaping what he did and confirming I had heard from the GM. Holy crap. (I also had a very prompt and genuine response from the SVP I contacted in LinkedIn. Saw that a bit later – but he wasted no time. Love it).
The brand brought it back from the brink. I’ll go back. Matt, Anders – commendable. Absolutely outstanding. Sorry we had this journey together, but I couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome. University Volvo Cars as well. Bravo. The prompt call and attention is how it should be done. Job well done.
But think about the dealer that was the catalyst to this entire saga. Not going back. That is how I review. Spend my $$ elsewhere. Worse yet (bigger picture) – do you think this was a onetime ball drop? Doubt it.
Experience! It is the deal. Make every step great.