I don’t like to complain in my newsletter. I’m a big believer that we learn from positive examples.
At times, negative things provide great insight.
This past week I had a nightmare experience with my car. On Friday, I couldn’t get the key into the ignition. I called the service desk at my dealer and talked to someone I’ve dealt with many times. He said, they’d have to look at it. He suspected that an anti-theft pin in the ignition got stuck. The right key usually moves it out of the way. I was stressed because it was going to be a nightmare to tow my car from my condo low clearance underground parking.
He also told me they were offering the first six-months free for VW roadside assistance.
He signed me up – saying I should be enrolled by Monday. (Oh well, in lockdown now, I could wait.) A friendly email in my inbox confirmed my March 1st signup. I tried to move the pin manually with a screwdriver. No luck.
Monday came… I called VW roadside assistance to be told I wasn’t in the system yet. It can take a few “working” days they said. Call the dealer to make sure they signed me up. Which I did. They had.
Tuesday morning came… I called VW roadside assistance to be told I still wasn’t in their system. They could transfer me VW customer care, if that’s okay? I said yes. Then wound up the wrong place. After 3 more transfers I reached someone in customer care. I was in their database! I was given a case number and told to tell VW roadside assistance they could call customer care to verify. So, I then went back to VW roadside assistance. They said… no, customer care has to call us.
I hung up the phone. After that, I enrolled online in CAA (the Canadian version of AAA). Called them to arrange the service. They came within 2 hours. The mechanic used a bit more elbow grease than me and moved the pin aside. Great! I was able to drive it out of the garage myself. (We’ll change the ignition tumbler as the long-term solution.)
For me the whole thing highlighted what can go majorly wrong when partners are serving a customer. Magnified by data sharing issues. Both of those leading to a horrible customer experience. And ultimately ending in them losing a customer.
Certainly, 3 days is likely enough time to sign-up a customer to VW roadside assistance. It’s usually given as a perk with a new car, not in the middle of a breakdown. But… if they are now offering it to a new segment of existing VW owners, the current process just doesn’t support them. Something they could of (should of) considered with the new offer.
It reminded me of an old HP policy called “trust the customer” . (Maybe they still have.) About 15 years ago, I was a PM with the break-fix group in Ireland. They serviced contracts for high-end customers with multi-million-dollar installations of hardware and network equipment.
They also had a monster SAP system, where it could take six months to get a contract fully loaded into the system.
So… when a customer calls in the middle of the night saying they are a platinum customer – and the system says they are bronze – they “trust the customer” and open the case. After all, they could always invoice them for the call-out after the fact if it proved otherwise.
Hmmm. Trust the customer. A great value to hold. Also a way to not handcuff your team from providing great customer experiences.