It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.
It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it. A well-known saying. And it is so often true in the world of customer experience. I recently experienced an example of this myself.
I bought my second-hand Volvo at a reputable Dutch garage specializing in Volvos.
Guarantee gives a sense of security
Due to a wide choice and a good gut feeling, I decided to take my business to this company. I found a nice car and after some negotiation, my wife and I decided to buy it. Because we had a three-month warranty, I had every confidence that I had not made a bad purchase.
I was able to pick up the car a week later, after a thorough inspection, and it turned out to be a good choice. I now had the car that had I wanted for years, and it drove beyond expectations.
However, there was one problem: I noticed that it was getting very hot in the car, as if the automatic air conditioning was not working properly.
The car was still under guarantee, so I knew that shouldn’t be a problem. I made an appointment and a week later I was in the garage. I had to drive far for the appointment and take part of the day off work; but hey, if everything was going to be resolved properly, then I was already happy.
I was well received, and the car was taken care of. And it was true: the air conditioning sensor was broken. It would take a little longer to be repaired, but I was already glad the problem had been identified, and an hour later I was able to receive the car again.
“Shall we pay the personal contribution first?” I was then asked. I don’t know if you have come across something like this with a guarantee, but I was very surprised.
A personal contribution of € 25 was not a significant amount, but I found it strange, and I told the owner this. A warranty is a warranty, right?
According to the business owner, the personal contribution was “to ensure that customers do not return for every tiny issue. We always do this, as a sort of threshold to prevent too many nonsense complaints.” And, he said, he had also explained this to my wife and me when the sale was agreed.
Only later did I remember that he had mentioned something like this, but in the moment I had been so enthusiastic about my new car that I had paid very little attention to it.
Anyway, in my experience a repair under warranty should not be accompanied by a personal contribution. You have a guarantee or you have no guarantee.
I could not fail to report that I still had a nasty aftertaste due to this experience. Unfortunately, the young lady at the counter could not do anything to change this. I received the invoice and left with an uneasy feeling. What such a small amount can do to your mood!
And to the reputation of the garage …
And my next car?
I was just on my way, when the owner called me to explain that he had told me clearly about the warranty during the sale, and that he was therefore within his rights. I told him that I understood that this was his policy, but could not understand why. I would nevertheless like to advise him to abolish this personal contribution; in the end it costs more in customer satisfaction than it yields in short term financial gain.
I will soon have to decide where I will take my car for periodic maintenance or repairs. And in a few years, I will probably be faced with the decision to buy a car again. What do you think? Will I choose the same garage again?
How is it arranged in your company? Do you perhaps also have rules that are a danger to your reputation? Please, reconsider them.