A recent experience buying a new car exemplifies the value of excellent customer service
Well, I finally did it. After months of research and discussion, I decided to buy a new car. My old car, a Honda Civic, was showing its age: It had traveled nearly 200,000 miles, its shiny black paint had dulled and was peeling, and, as my father used to say, its “get up and go” had “gotten up and went.”
So, in late January, I took a couple days off and set out to find a new, reliable form of transportation. I wasn’t hopeful. While doing my homework, I had heard there were few Civics with manual transmissions on the market in my area. Because that’s what I always have driven and what I wanted, I anticipated running into snags, possibly having to special order a car from another city or even state.
Fortunately, that wasn’t the case.
A few minutes after I had pulled onto the lot of a nearby Honda dealership and begun looking around, a pleasant sales associate walked out of the showroom, introduced himself (Don), welcomed me and asked how he could help me. I explained in probably too much detail what I wanted, and he took about three steps to the left and pointed to the exact vehicle I had described — even down to the color.
Next, I test drove it, while Don explained its features in a thorough but easy-to-follow manner. Back at the dealership, he continued to demonstrate the car’s safety features, computer system, phone, etc. Because it had been a while since I had purchased a new car, I asked a million questions. Like a veteran schoolteacher showing a student how to read, he patiently repeated instructions I didn’t understand.
Then, of course, we discussed price. I said I wanted to think about it and would return the next day. When I arrived, Don was ready with the paperwork, and within an hour or so, I was on my way home with a new car.
In a time when e-commerce is all the rage, I found it refreshing to stand face to face with a sales associate who was knowledgeable and professional, had a wry sense of humor, listened and offered a fair deal. The in-person customer service I received was the determining factor in my decision to buy.
I’m not alone. When buying a large-ticket item like a car, a mattress or home furnishings, customer service plays a vital role in a consumer’s decision-making process and is key to the success of your retail business. According to a recent study by the International Council of Shopping Centers, “88% of consumers say a positive customer service (experience) is important when spending on goods, including home furnishings, and 73% said positive, in-person customer service experiences significantly increase the likelihood of purchasing furniture and home furnishings.” In addition, the survey found “65% of consumers consider quality of service when deciding where to shop.”
I was fortunate the dealership had the car I wanted and that Don helped me. I hope you hire and retain lots of Dons in your store. Take it from me, you will have happy — and returning — customers.