In 1969, the United States landed on the moon. (Any debate about that can happen in the comments below.)
It’s 2015, and the world has seen amazing progress. Technology has traveled leaps and bounds, as the “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” has taken shape and transformed society.
Yet, it’s amazing to me that customer service still hasn’t reached a universal quality. There are still so many bad experiences to be had among the great. I hate speaking in general, but in many ways we’ve gone backwards.
Do I need an oil change, or a mechanic change?
A few weeks ago, I went in early for a routine oil change. This particular shop opened at 7am, so by early I mean I got there at 7am.
I arrived to find the place officially “closed” still, despite having arrived a minute after 7.
I’m fine with a bit of lateness. I can’t say I’m the saint of “on-timelineness”, so I was happy to wait.
3 minutes later and I see the first employee looking at me.
5 minutes later he comes up and tells me they’re getting a late start.
7 minutes later he’s still standing around, but finally heads inside to join another employee.
10 minutes later they finally opened.
They hardly spoke to me during the process and only told me to pull forward.
I got out and went into the lobby, waiting for them to do their dirty work. They worked surprisingly fast after the unfortunate late start, so I was about to forgive their lack of communication and tardiness.
That is, until I noticed something in the list of completed work.
See, this wasn’t just a straight oil change. In addition to a new oil filter, the package also included refilling all major fluids, pressurizing the tires, and vacuuming the carpets.
In the final list they presented to me, I noticed “Windshield Wiper Fluid: Yes”. The thing is… this car was a rebuild from a total and the one thing it never had was a wiper fluid tank.
Whether it was careless oversight or a flat-out lie, I had them check not only that there was no wiper fluid tank, but to make certain they actually did the work that they said they did.
Luckily they didn’t miss anything else, so we’ll call it careless oversight, but they effectively took themselves off duty from any future work for me and my vehicle. All because of poor customer service.
Their problem was their solution
Their problem wasn’t a lack of manpower or a lack of experience. They are a well-known chain that has been in this location for years.
But looking at their more-than-outdated computer system you could tell that they had “what they needed” but it wasn’t pretty and it was barely functional. Heck, I wouldn’t find it hard to believe that the system was so ridiculously hard to use that they just didn’t bother changing that option from “yes” to “no”. I don’t blame them for not wanting to use it.
Imagine if they had a brand new CRM that allowed them to provide me with the most complete, personalized care. Imagine them knowing everything about my car every time I come, knowing exactly what was done, when it was done, who did it, and what’s scheduled to be looked at.
Contrast this experience with one I had with tire company who sends me regular emails at planned intervals when I need to rotate or check the pressure on my tires. That’s a good experience and it’s one I look forward to repeating.
The U.S. government and the case of the missing information
While an oil change is important for your vehicle, it ain’t nothing compared to immigration, legal permanent residence, and all things related to your very existence in a certain country.
I won’t bore you with all the details, but suffice it to say that the U.S. immigration system really is broken, and not just on a wide scale. It’s also broken at a much smaller, personal level.
I know this from personal experience because I’ve been in immigration process after immigration process since I met my [now] wife in Chile.
We’ve been through a lot together, she and I: applying for passports and legal residence, visiting family in other countries and going to embassies, etc. And through all of that, the one thing that always stood out was how much better the private sector worked than the public sector.
Right now we’re in process of renewing her legal residence in order to visit her father who was diagnosed with terminal cancer a few months ago.
Just today, we’ve had to make 3 separate calls to try to find out what we need to get out of the country, each rep giving us conflicting information compared the the one before them, and each time we’ve had to pry and complain just to get clear answers.
Then we went to the Department of Homeland Security in person with all the paperwork we were told to bring only for the receptionist to tell us we need a doctor’s note as evidence. So we called her parents, they scanned the note, sent it to us, and we went to a print shop.
Evidence in hand, we took it back. This time, a different receptionist told us we needed a certified translation (my own didn’t count).
It was a piece-meal disaster in its purest form. We’re furious.
A light in the middle of a customer service void
Out of this nightmare experience, there was a single, brilliant light that shined forth: the print shop.
After wading knee-deep in a sludge of suffocating support, coming to the independent print shop was a breath of fresh air. An employee eagerly greeted us at the door with nothing else to do but ask how she could help. We explained our predicament and she listened intently to every detail, even if it wasn’t in her job description.
She comprehended our situation, told us where to email the files, and went right away to print them. Talking us through the process, she did a stellar job making us feel welcome and important.
In the end, our business only brought the company $3.67 in gross revenue, but the service was worth a $1 million.
And that little gesture was enough for us to be sure we were going to go back for whatever printing or related service we ever needed.
Where CRM made the difference
Imagine them taking the time to record just a few details: what I needed, who helped me, how I was helped, how quickly, etc. Imagine being able to take that data to their other locations and know how to help me in the future, know what my past is, and know how to train their staff to be just as cordial and helpful as this particular employee was to us.
That’s power. And that power is available to anyone who takes the time to invest in a CRM solution and puts time into finding ways to get the highest return on that investment.
If you want to impress your customers, if you want to be that dreamy customer service experience amid a nightmare day, you need to add CRM to your utility belt and you need to use it to its fullest.