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Don’t Pee on the Electric Fence: A Lesson in Customer Service

April 27, 2014

Electric Fence In my last post Customer Service Meets Productivity I shared a recent customer service experience with the Hyundai dealership where I’ve dealt for three and a half years. We own two Hyundais, three of my four adult kids own Hyundais, and they in turn have recommended their friends to Myers Hyundai in Ottawa’s west end. And all to the same sales man, Roy, who is one of the tops in Canada.

No one likes to hear negative feedback, even businesses that are supposedly customer-focused. However, when Myers emailed me after that fateful service appointment (getting my summer rims installed on my Tucson) I replied with a short note and a link to the blog post I’d written on my experience. I also copied Roy on that email, who immediately responded to me–on a weekend I might add–saying he was sorry to hear about my experience, that he valued me as a customer and that he’d copied the general manager so that he would be aware on my experience.

I was curious whether I’d receive a phone call. Monday evening when I got home from work there was a terse voice mail message from someone called “Shane” who is with Myers Hyundai. He didn’t say his last name nor what his position is with Myers. I returned his call early Tuesday morning leaving a detailed message, which included asking what his role is at the dealership.

Waldo By the end of the week I still had not heard back from “Shane,” who at that point had become my “Waldo,” reflecting the kids book, can you find Waldo?

I emailed Roy to express my disappointment, to be informed that many changes were underway at Myers Hyundai.

That reminded me of a chat I’d had with the general manager a month previous while one of our vehicles was in the shop for an oil change. Marc, the GM, told me he’d just “let go” the service manager, code for being fired. It was, of course, none of my business, but I found his comment interesting. Waldo, I mean “Shane,” is now the new service manager.

I have no idea why the general manager didn’t call me, nor why Shane has not returned my call, following his initial call to me. As I said at the outset, as human beings we don’t like receiving negative feedback. But in the customer service world getting feedback, in all its forms, is the lifeblood of any business. Indeed, sometimes a bad customer service experience if handled properly by a business can actually strengthen a customer’s loyalty. That’s happened to me in the past.

Consider the general rule of 10 people being told about a negative customer experience compared to five who share positive ones. You could logically conclude that businesses would focus on hearing from and correcting these bad occurrences. Yet the opposite happens frequently. Sticking one’s head in the sand, pretending that bad experiences are outliers, or writing the customer off as a crank is a fool’s exercise, only to be reinforced by the creation of a business culture that ignores the truth and rewards mediocrity.

At this point, I assume Myers Hyundai has written me off as a crank. Pity, considering the many new customers that can be linked to me.

If you’re in the business of serving people don’t pretend that all’s well. Show leadership and seek out those who are not happy with the service or product they received. Listen to them. Hear them. And don’t judge them.

American satirist Will Rogers once said: There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.

When it comes to customer service, pay attention. Learn by observing. Read up and be informed. But don’t pee on the electric fence. JT


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2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 28, 2014 11:04 pm

    Hey Susan. I did send Roy a link. He called me tonight to try to get me back as a customer. What’s interesting is that he’s in sales, not service, yet he’s intervening to try to rectify the situation. Anyway, he plans to talk to the GM and the new service manager tomorrow to see what they can do. Apparently, there are dozens of other pissed off customers because of service delays. The reason given, which I don’t accept, is the dealership’s steady growth. It’s management’s job to ensure customer service remains job one. Other businesses not experiencing such steady growth could only wish for Myers’ sales success, driven by Hyundai’s growth in North America.

  2. April 28, 2014 8:05 pm

    Interesting follow-up to your story about Myers Hyundai and they’re poor customer service. Do you plan to send Roy a link to this latest installment of “Why I Won’t Be Referring Any More Customers Your Way?”

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