Home > Ideas > Courtesy alone isn’t enough!

Courtesy alone isn’t enough!

(Part-1 of a 3-part study on Customer Experience. )

That title may sound counter-intuitive because from childhood we have been told that “courtesy & manners maketh the man”!

Let me tell you a story …Hyundai Eon - Interior

It was Priya’s long-cherished dream to own a car and the urgency of that desire grew in recent times due to circumstances that will be explained in due course. She didn’t have much travelling to do and hers was a desk-based job; taking a cab or a rickshaw to work and for the recreational trips to town would have seemed like the sensible option going the spiraling fuel and living costs. But after joining a software company last year she found even the new recruits coming to work in their own shiny cars while she as Manager was still using public transport. She imagined them making jokes at her expense and decided to correct the situation. Husband Mr.Prakash was given the mandate to get her a suitable small car – something that wasn’t a gas guzzler and would be easy to drive around. Not that she wasn’t going to pay – but having no clue on how one went about choosing and buying she left it to the more experienced person. Prakash was to do the leg-work and tell her when there were papers to sign.

Prakash had always used Hyundai cars because the dealership had given him excellent support and the cars had been trouble-free – but Priya’s friends recommended a Maruti, good mileage and low maintenance they said. After doing the rounds of the dealerships in town they zeroed in on two models, one from each manufacturer. The cars were pretty evenly matched – the prettier Hyundai model was offset by the better mileage of the Maruti. But then there was a clincher offered by Rajeev, the salesman from the Hyundai dealership.

“Sir, we have a few pieces of our previous model – it isn’t much different from the new one, but it’s stock that’s been with us for 3 months. So, I can offer you an additional discount of Rs. 20,000 for it.”

Now, that was huge! The Maruti’s advantages seemed to pale when this discount was factored in. Prakash convinced Priya that it was worth accepting and that she should think no further.

It was Prakash who took the lead and visited the showrooms for initial discussion, it was he who test drove the cars and he also did the necessary paper-work to acquire a loan for the purchase.

Rajeev was a courteous guy. He had a pleasing manner and when asked he provided all details. When pressed for discounts he obliged with a waiver of Insurance Charges and threw in some accessories as freebie too. He had also topped it with the discount offer on the older version.

Although Rajeev was affable and courteous during the interactions Prakash found it extremely difficult to get through to the man on the phone. During the 3 week long process he always had to call more than once to get through and never found his calls being returned when there was a busy tone – he invariably had to call after a while. Text messages were responded to only after a reminder was sent.

After the purchase was finalized Prakash has to run to the dealership to submit papers because Rajeev never seemed to have time to make a visit. The incentive of the extra discount kept Prakash and Priya from cancelling the deal.

On the day prior to the registration Rajeev mentioned the need of a document for submission to the Transport Authorities’ Office. He said it was necessary to complete the process – this had not been mentioned earlier. Prakash was livid but couldn’t do anything because they were too far gone to cancel the deal. The registration was delayed by another week while they got the necessary paper and it need not be emphasized here that the buyers were thoroughly disgusted.

When Rajeev was asked why he did not have a proper checklist that would make the process clear to the customer he said that most people knew and that he was surprised Prakash did not know.

The customers drove away with the car with mixed feelings – they wondered whether the whole process had been worthwhile. To make a saving they had had to undergo a lot of stress, all thanks to Rajeev’s inability to understand and respond to his customer’s needs.

Rajeev could have made it a happy experience for Prakash and Priya by doing a few simple things.

  1. Answer phone calls promptly
  2. Respond to customers requirement with speed and clarity
  3. Proactively understand the customer’s expectations and meet them
  4. Sense the customer’s feelings (positive & negative) and respond empathetically
  5. Have absolute clarity on the Sales Process and deploy it appropriately
  6. Tell the customer in advance what is expected from them at each step so that there are no surprises
  7. Not take the customer for granted
  8. Check with the customer at each stage to confirm that they are satisfied

It is great that Rajeev has a pleasing personality and good manners, but that is not enough. He has to ensure that he performs the role of Sales Professional too.

Courtesy + Performance = Great Customer Experience

(The next 2 parts will deal with the Car Loan and the Sales Fulfillment processes.)


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Categories: Ideas
  1. April 5, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    I agree JAyadev…A lot of publicity happens by word of mouth, positive and negative…So Rajeev;s performance would decide if Prakash’s contacts come to him or avoid him when they decide to buy a car!

    • JayadevM
      April 5, 2013 at 5:27 pm

      Precisely! Rajeev forgot that.

      It seemed like he didn’t care. And it is lean season for the manufacturers. I wonder why the organisation is not focusing on this crucial element of success.

  2. April 5, 2013 at 5:03 pm

    Jay, courtesy, follow up and follow through… Rajeev missed the last 2 crucial steps! We should never assume that the Customer is super knowledgeable- its upto us to cover all areas as part of assuring full Customer Satisfaction. Super first part Jay!!

    • JayadevM
      April 5, 2013 at 5:36 pm

      Thank you, Jamy!

      Yes, this Salesperson forgot those keys steps in the process.

      In a successful Sales or Service interaction the Practical & Personal Needs of the customer need to be met. This guy missed on both counts.

  3. April 6, 2013 at 4:02 pm

    Actually, I was instrumental in getting a stock-audit initiated of a Hyundai outlet in Jaipur back in 2001. I have preserved the letter sent to me by the Indian head office of the company. In my case too the trouble had occurred because of the insensitive sales staff. But I had taken special pains to get into touch with their corporate offices in S Korea.

    • JayadevM
      April 6, 2013 at 6:46 pm

      Hi Umashankar

      This Salesperson must be an aberration, because I know from my own experience that they usually are impeccable. Being a Hyundai user of many years I have had few opportunities to complain and that actually aggravated my displeasure – it was so unlike them.

      Thank you for reading.

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