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Great Customer Service. Really.

Like all of you, I appreciate good customer service. It often drives my purchase decisions–and loyalty–far beyond any price consideration. This is especially true with the service businesses I engage, and that’s why I was pleased the first time I took my car to a nearby dealership. After finishing up the repair, they washed my car and returned it nice and clean. They have continued to do this every time I take my car there, whether it’s for a big job or something small like an oil change. I understand that the cost of this service is included in my bill but I don’t mind. It’s a small thing that, in addition to offering what I think is a fair price for quality service, keeps me coming back. That’s why my last trip was especially disappointing.

We had a repair done a few months ago and it turns out that the mechanics misdiagnosed the problem and replaced the wrong part. We brought it back a short time later, explained that the problem was still there, and deduced that the wrong thing had been replaced. After a little back and forth they agreed to replace the part free of charge. I considered that option the only reasonable solution, and was slightly put off by their initial suggestion that we pay for the second repair without any credit for the first. Sure, they offered to knock 15 percent off, but I wasn’t having anything of it. Later in the day they called to say the job was done and I was free to pick up my car … my dirty car. Apparently the “free” carwash is only provided when I open my wallet for something else first.

A company’s commitment to customer service must be complete and genuine. It can’t just happen when money is exchanged and it certainly can’t take place only when things go well. In fact, the time to double down on exceptional customer service is when things haven’t gone all that well. A company distinguishes itself from its competitors and shows its core values in the face of mistakes. You’re either completely about customer service or you aren’t, and customers will quickly figure out which is true and either give you their loyalty or take their dollars elsewhere.




About Casey Jones, CAPP

Casey Jones, CAPP is vice president for university services at SP Plus Corporation. He is IPI past chair and services on the IPI Parking Matters Committee and Accredited Parking Organization board of directors.


  1. Julie E. North says:

    Hi Casey: What a great article! Just yesterday I dropped my new Nissan Juke off for the first oil change. The dealership has always had two shuttles to take people to their places of employment. They only had one shuttle yesterday and I and five other individuals waited 2 hours for a ride. Apparently the dealership transferred the second shuttle to another location in town. At the end of the day I went to pick my car up. I commute around 40 miles one way. I thought I could smell oil inside my car off and on driving home. When I got home, smoke was rolling out of my engine compartment and the oil smell was unbelievable. I tried calling the dealership and there was no answer. So the second time I called an operator answered. I explained to her that my car just had service and what was happening. I said I really need to talk to someone. Finally I got through. Someone from the service department said to drop if off today. Instead of doing that I pulled into a dealership in my home town. My engine was covered with oil as well as the grill. Someone did a sloppy job. They washed the engine and the entire car for me and didn’t even charge me. Now that’s customer service, really. Since I work in a diffeent town, I purchased the maintenance package from the dealership. I will be writing the owner of the dealership and asking for a refund!

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