This is why some companies get a bad rap! Our colleague here at Shepard Presentations, Nate Jones, shared a story about something that recently happened to his father. This is a great customer service training lesson. He bought a new car. About a month later he’s in a parking lot and the car won’t start.

So, he calls the dealership’s customer service number, which was actually a support center for all of that brand’s dealerships in the U.S. – maybe even the world.

The call started off okay but quickly derailed into one of those, “You won’t believe this” kind of stories. After a little troubleshooting over the phone, the customer support agent said, “I’m sorry, you’ll have to take the car into the dealership.”

One BIG problem. He couldn’t get the car started. But you knew that, and let’s all assume the customer service agent knew it, too. But rather than show empathy and make the suggestion that the car would have to be towed to the dealership, this rep simply said to take the car to the dealership, ignoring the fact that the car wouldn’t start. That was until the customer said, “I would if I could get the car started.” Her response was, “Oh. Sorry about that.”

It was obvious that this rep was trained to tell the customer that when the problem couldn’t be solved over the phone to make an appointment to take the car to the dealer. It probably wasn’t an actual script, but it was an answer she was trained to use.

What could she have done for her customer?

  1. Listen! The customer service rep would never have suggested taking the car to the dealership had she truly heard the customer say, “It won’t start.” She was probably just going through the motions with the troubleshooting exercise, not really paying attention to her customer.
  2. Show some empathy. This ties back to listening. You can’t show empathy if you don’t listen to the customer. (She actually seemed to show empathy at the beginning of the conversation, but you have to question if it was genuine by the disconnected suggestion she eventually made.)
  3. Do more than just apologize for the problem. Maybe go a step further and offer to call a tow truck to have the car picked up. If she really wanted to turn this Moment of Misery into a Moment of Magic, she could have offered to help him find a way home. Maybe call for an Uber or help find some other form of transportation to get her customer home safely. After all, the car wasn’t even a month old.

Unfortunately, that was not what happened. She practically said, “Too bad, so sad, goodbye.” And that’s not the type of customer experience that gets a customer to say, “I’ll Be Back.”