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"An insightful and refreshing look at the way consumers and retailers interact in this modern age.”

Sir Stuart Rose,
Chairman of Marks & Spencer plc

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Customer Experience – Too Much of a Good Thing?

I’m the proud owner of a seven year old Land Rover Freelander II. It’s a great car which I really enjoy driving. And my local dealer is brilliant. I do think that, don’t I?

 

The car is a recent purchase, bought privately and I noticed on the Land Rover web site that their dealers offer a free comprehensive health check which would identify the car’s current condition and highlight any necessary works to keep my shiny new motor running smoothly.

 

So I booked my car in. And on the appointed day I rocked up to the dealership, parked up and wandered towards the door of the service department.  The door was opened for me before I got there. I was greeted BY NAME. I was given a cup of tea and sat comfortably whilst the receptionist took me through the usual paperwork.

 

All done, I left to get on with my day.

 

A phone call at 3pm to tell me that the car was ready for collection, vacuumed out, washed and waxed.

 

On my return to the garage the chatty receptionist gave my car a clean bill of health and advised that they would check with me next month on break wear levels as pads and discs would probably be ready for a change out by then.

 

And then she used an interesting phrase, “ Land Rover will be contacting you to see how satisfied you were with you visit to us today. You were satisfied weren’t you? What do you think you will say?” I could almost hear the tremble in the poor girl’s voice. It was beginning to sound like the Scrooge of Land Rover would come down on the poor Crachett receptionist if I deigned to suggest that my visit was less than perfect.

 

I confirmed that I was completely happy. “Yes, but are you satisfied?” It seemed that only the “S” word would settle her down and release me from this conversation. “Satisified? , yes I’m completely satisified”.

 

Honour had been served. With my car keys returned I was free to leave the building. Or so I thought. The very next day the sinister phone calls to my mobile started. A call from an anonymous number which I didn’t answer, no message left. Same thing again the next day. And the day after. Was this the mysterious voice from Land Rover? I suspect so but I can never be certain.

 

And so I reflected on my experience. I admit that I was surprised and delighted that a. the dealer would carry out a free health check (even though it’s clearly a good way of drumming up work for them, for  me it was a good comfort factor that my car was sound) b. that I was greeted by name and given tea before I sat left me almost dumbfounded and c. that the car had not only been checked but completely valeted.  Who wouldn’t be delighted by these things?

 

But what really took the wind out of my sales is the heavy handed way that the receptionist was obliged to question me about my expected satisfaction rating and the poor and (it felt) sinister way that I was (nearly) followed up by Land Rover.

 

Guys – it feels to me like you are doing the right things for the wrong reasons. All I wanted was the thing I asked for – to have you check my car over and report back on any work that needed doing to keep it safe and reliable. That would have had me completely satisfied. Greeting me by name and being that nice to me felt weird the first time (maybe I’ll get used to it) but the cross questioning for the satisfaction rating took all the glamour away.  I no longer feel loved, just processed. Am I satisfied? No, I’m cynical.

 

But I still love my Freelander.