What is Good Customer Service?

What is Good Customer Service?

This is a story of what is good customer service – and how the small things matter. Ultimately, it’s a story about trust.

What is Good Customer Service?

I recently bought a new Nissan hybrid. As part of the deal, I turned in my previous Nissan, which I had leased. The sales manager at the dealership told me they’d take care of all the “turn in costs,” including any excess wear and tear on the vehicle (it had some minor scrapes on the fenders). We didn’t put that part of the deal into writing. It was a verbal acknowledgment. I had their word that they’d take care of it. “Good customer service,” I thought.

To my surprise, three months after I bought the new car, I got an excess wear and tear bill from Nissan on the old car totaling $250. Not a lot of money. But I wasn’t going to pay it. It was the dealer’s responsibility. We had a deal.

So I called the dealership to talk to my salesperson. Unfortunately, he had left the company. I was transferred to a man named Glen. After I explained the situation, Glen said he would handle it for me. “Thank you,” I told him, my trust meter rising. “Just fax me the invoice from Nissan,” he said. I did, and I figured that was the end of it.

A month later, I got a call from a debt collection service. “Where’s the money you owe us?” a Mr. Frezell asked. I explained the situation and said that the dealership had promised to take care of it. “You should talk to them,” I said.

“We don’t talk to anyone but you,” said Mr. Frezell in the tone of voice that only a debt collector can love. After a few attempts to get him to see the situation from my point of view, I hung up the phone.

My next call was to the dealership. How could they not have taken care of this, I asked myself? We had a deal. My trust meter was dropping. My relationship with Nissan hung in the balance.

When Glen got on the phone, I explained the latest chapter. “This debt collection service has called me and said I still owe this money.”

“I don’t get it,” Glen said. “Let me look into it and call you back.”

Less than 30 minutes later, Glen called back. “I researched this. We wrote a check to Nissan three weeks ago. The check has been endorsed and deposited. I’ll fax the check so you can see for yourself. And give me the number of Mr. Frezell and I’ll be happy to talk to him.”

Latest update: Glen called Mr. Frezell and wrote him a letter, including copies of the check showing that Nissan had deposited it. No further word from the debt collection agency.

Today, my trust meter in Nissan is at a high point. This story could have gone the other way – and cost Nissan a long-term loyal customer. But because of Glen, the scales tipped toward trust. It helped me remember that every customer relationship hinges on small but crucial moments of good service.

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Eric Douglas

Eric Douglas is the senior partner and founder of Leading Resources Inc., a consulting firm that focuses on developing high-performing organizations. For more than 20 years, Eric has successfully helped a wide array of government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and corporations achieve breakthroughs in performance. His new book The Leadership Equation helps leaders achieve strategic clarity, manage change effectively, and build a leadership culture.

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