Cherry Picked Courtesy Inspections

This is an update. I recently had a couple of frustrating experiences with a vehicle that was brought in for service that I’d like to use to point out the customer perspective. Neither instance, on its own, seems like a bit deal. Both organizations that were asked to perform a courtesy inspection would say that they didn’t do anything wrong…and on the surface they didn’t. Here’s what happened.

The vehicle was brought in for preventative maintenance reasons during which it was requested that a thorough inspection be performed as I needed to decide whether to put money into the vehicle, or consider purchasing a new one. Both organizations perform courtesy inspections as part of normal customer satisfaction processes. I wanted to emphasize that I really needed the vehicle looked over well. As a technician, whenever I heard something like this I saw it as a license to print money…should the customer choose to keep the vehicle.

The first service center the vehicle was taken to reported back that the vehicle needed brakes, a timing belt with water pump, and an air filter. There was no mention of any maintenance items that showed up on a previous inspection which had been declined and never performed. There was also no mention of the struts that had 160,000 miles on them and were worn enough the vehicle “floated” down the highway. Neither was the axle seal seepage mentioned (present since this same organization replaced the axle seals in question less than 12 months previously). Of course there was no mention of the expensive and labor intense, but difficult to replace, power door motor that no longer functioned. Looking at the inspection form it seemed to me that the technician chose those items that would make some easy money to report.

The second service center was asked to execute a rather expense repair to some driveline bearings. Obviously I was willing to put some money into this vehicle. They were asked to give special attention to the inspection and report anything the vehicle may need in the near future. On the inspection report returned to me was the timing belt (based on mileage), air filter, and axle seal seepage. No mention was made of the door motor, struts, brakes, or water pump.

As a “normal” customer who has no knowledge of all things mechanically related to an automobile I might have taken either report, chosen to put money into the vehicle rather than buy a new one and driven away thinking I had gotten off cheap and expecting many years more of uninterrupted operation. Later I would have discovered the vehicle needed struts. And then some more axle seals. The door motor I might have neglected for the rest of the vehicle’s useful life. At some point I may have decided that this vehicle has nickel and dimed me enough. So why does all this bother me?

It bothers me because as customer I have to trust you to tell me exactly what is going on with my vehicle. I have to trust you to help me make a good decision about my vehicle. In neither case would the information I received been appropriate for me to make a big decision from. These vehicles are just some more potential work to you and I, but they represent much more to a customer. To a technician who has the attitude “this guy never buys” the vehicle really means nothing except what it was brought in for. (i.e. “money in my pocket now”). So what would I suggest a shop do about this?

Raise your game. Don’t view vehicles as customers. Don’t view vehicles as just money here and now. View each and every vehicle as your own. Communicate to technicians exactly what you expect of them….road test, everything gets noted, what would you do if it were your vehicle? Taking your customer service to this level will mean increased sales, many more customer referrals, and the peace of mind knowing that you’ve performed at that highest level possible. Some of you already are there already. Many of you will arrive there soon. For some, there is a long way to go.

Comments are closed.