Customer Care or Do We Care?

This article is based on my personal experience with Maruti, Toyota, Chevrolet and Honda. All of them profess to be customer centric. Would you agree? What would you do if you were them?

Car sales are down, and the economy has a lot to do with this. But between cars, why is there a variation in sales?

Have you tried to buy a car recently? Where do you get information?  Yes you do get some product information, but have you tried to find a dealership? It’s not easy, depending on the car company. In fact, we went looking for a foreign car showroom. It wasn’t where the website said it was. We then called Just Dial and they told us to go to Ring Road (turns out this showroom had moved out 4 years ago). We called again and were sent to Okhla which turned out to be a service centre. I wrote to the President of the company telling him about our experience. Never heard from him!

The next is getting a test drive. No one really cares. I will give the example of one Japanese company. I was told the salesmen were in a meeting and would call in an hour. I had also asked for a test drive from the company. The company (a Japanese one) call center called the next day and asked if we had had a test drive. I said no. They said someone would call. And the same girl called me back apologising, and she would have someone call. Someone called me in the afternoon and asked the same questions (type of car, manual or automatic etc) He said he would send a car soon. Never heard from him again. Two days later, I called the girl and she apologised and said something would happen right away. Today is ten days later. No hear from them! (I’ve already bought one)

Another car company (another Japanese company) sent us a car, dented, unwashed….my wife described the car as a used taxi…she would not buy the brand.

Finally we bought a foreign car from a third dealer. He told us to pick up the car the next day at 2pm. I checked at 12 noon, and the car would be ready at 2pm. I called at 2.30pm while leaving the house and was told the car was ready and all the add ons were done. We reached and could see no new car of the brand. My son quipped it must be the one outside that looked like it was a used car, full of dirt and dust, and it was.

On insisting on seeing the car, to our shock and dismay, that was the new car they were giving us. It was not ready, nor were the add ons done.

No apologies, just give us time and the car will be cleaned up!

We left and three hours later there is no phone call telling us what is happening.

This is Customer Care at its best (which translates into I don’t care). How do they expect to sell cars? What’s your reaction? Do respond.

Gautam Mahajan

President, Customer Value Foundation

Mahajan@customervaluefoundation.com

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3 Comments on “Customer Care or Do We Care?”


  1. Dear Viewers,

    Mr. Ravi Krishnaswamy Director-Corporate Affairs and Placements of CMRIT-Bangalore says this about this post by Customer Value Foundation:

    It is worse with the Telephone ( mobile ,landline ,dth , broadband ) Companies . I closed my Tatadocomo 3 g connection in October , but still get SMS reminders ( in January ) to pay my dues or else ….?!!!!

    K. Ravi


  2. I agree Gautam. Had a recent run in on similar lines with Honda which I’ll narrate below.

    4 years ago, I had bought a Honda Civic and we had a fab experience. So when we wanted to buy the 3rd car in the family, we definitely weighed that in when making our decision and went in for another Honda. We bought this one from the local dealer (Crystal Honda) in Pune in September last year. The sales executive promised us that the car would be ready for delivery at 2:00 PM. When we reached there at 3:00 PM – no car. When the car came in, it was straight from the yard, dusty, unwashed, etc. A few guys went around nonchalantly cleaning the car right in front of us! It took them a couple of hours to get it right. We finally drove out at 6:00 PM. Of course by then I was livid and had raised a mighty stink – so the General Manager, etc. were attending personally.

    However, the entire car delivery experience was a complete washout.

    To add insult to the injury – a few days later the customer service executive calls up to take a feedback and asks to give a rating on a scale of 1-10. When I rated them at 2 for the delivery experience, the CSE got offended and said that anything less than 8 is considered poor. Obviously, she was not clued into what had happened!

    I am not too sure if this was an isolated incident and I was the unfortunate beneficiary, but somehow I get a sinking feeling that it is systemic. I notice a marked difference in the quality of the people they hire these days. With the economy down, they appear to be cutting a few corners here. Now this is Honda whose customer service is supposed to be legendary!

    God bless the customer!

    best regards,

    Prashant Shringarpure, Founder & CEO
    Hexagon Executive Search Pvt. Ltd.


  3. Dear Mr. Mahajan,

    I will share my experience with one of Indian Car Manufacturer, Maruti Suzuki.

    I own a Maruti ritz purchased in Sept 2010. As you are, me too very conscious of Customer Service. I always observe how the service provider reacts, delivers. Today I took the delivery of the vehicle after 4 th servicing. In these last 2 and half year I had not stuck to only one Maruti Service Centre but tried with 2 and let me tell you that my experience was awesome in terms of

    1. How they received me when I took my vehicle there
    2. Recording the condition of vehicle and explaining the items which will be billed and approximate billing
    3. A phone call to inform the the time when I should pick up my vehicle
    4. The delivery time, although it was not exact but 10-15 minutes here and there.

    And this was consistent for both the service centre in my locality.

    To my opinion Quality of Customer service depends on

    • Culture of organization:- customer centricity should not be only preached but practiced too.
    • How the management is taking care of the internal customers i.e. employees, which will reflect in handling of external customers.
    • Degree of Empowerment :- matter runs from pillar to post in search of the decision maker.
    • Sound and clear Processes
    • And finally the attitude of the person who is the face to the customer.

    Regards

    Mr Laxminarayan Shanbhag
    Assistant General Manager Commercial Claims
    L& T Insurance


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