Getting by with Just the Minimum

This may be a great tag line for a car insurance company but it falls far short when talking about customer service. If your company is doing “Just the Minimum” for what they need to get by then it’s time to shake things up. If you don’t change then you could be closing your doors forever buying the minimum from that car insurance company because that’s all you can afford on your new minimum wage job.

The idea for this post hit me this morning after receiving an email from a car dealership at 6:36 am. You see last night I sent this same dealership an email explaining my disappointment in the way they were handling my inquiry on a used vehicle they have for sale.

A little history may be in order here. I’ve been working up to purchase this type of car for over two years now. Doing lots of research and comparisons of different model years and the like. I came across this dealership and car via a search (no-affiliation) this past weekend. The dealership is 500+ miles away which leaves out a quick stop by for a visual inspection and a test drive.

The ad was lacking in some very important information for making a purchase decision (that’s another post for another time).  Anyway I used the dealerships “email us for more info form” requesting some additional pictures and a carfax request midday on Monday which included my phone number and email address. An automated response email was sent back suggesting I call or email them for additional info about the car. Thought to self “Isn’t that what I just did?”

Heads up here businesses that use autoresponders – make sure your reply message is appropriate to the request otherwise you will have accomplished nothing. Autoresponse emails have a place and time. Don’t just get by with the minimum. Set your responders to work when the office is closed and there is no-one around to answer your emails. Better yet if you’re a small business that doesn’t receive that many emails to begin with nix the autoresponders and handle them personally. I’d rather wait an hour for a response that actually meant something then be told to do what I’ve already done.

Getting back to my correspondence with the dealer – so I did what they asked and on Tuesday I replied with another request for more info and this time received a personal reply promising a follow up that evening with the information requested.

Tuesday night goes by, Wednesday day goes by, Wednesday night goes by and still nothing. This prompted my last email late Wednesday night basically saying that “… if you’re not interested in making a 25+ thousand dollar sale I’d find another business that would be happy to have me as a customer”. Now that’s boiled down but you get my gist I’m sure. To let you know I’m not a very pushy person, ask anyone and they will tell you I’m pretty laid back and tend to give a lot of leeway when dealing with people.

Here is a business that has a motivated buyer that’s willing to part with close to $25,000 and is asking for some assistance due to the distance between us. Nothing more or less than I expect my contact at the dealership would request if he were in my shoes. The dealership doing just the minimum here is not working to build much trust in their ability or desire to help their customers.

This mornings email was somewhat apologetic stating that the person given the task to gather and forward my requested informatoin dropped the ball and wasn’t in the office yesterday to follow up with. My thoughts here were “so you’re telling me you can only talk to this person while they’re in the office”. I have my doubts about that one. My next thoughts were “I’m not worth the time – they’ll just wait for someone else to come along and buy the car, that’s easier and they don’t have to do more than the minimum to get by“.

The email also said this: “I will check today and either we will send you what you need or not.” That is a direct quote.

I’m curious to see what today brings.

What’s the take away here?

Do the minimum and hope to get by. This will not work in today’s social economy.

– Do the extra over and above to build trust, respect and a relationship with your customers that will stand up and champion your business, service and products.

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