Genuine Customer Centricity is a Sham

customer experience

I sometimes wonder if I am living in a parallel reality, one in which the blandishments of the marketing professionals and ‘customer centric’ gurus have not yet had the opportunity to work their magic.

I am quite sure that ‘putting the customer at the heart of everything we do’ is rapidly becoming nothing more than a poor cliché of a sentiment, one that even the C-Suite no longer believes in – if indeed they ever did.

Allow me to ask a few simple questions to test my premise.  

When did piped music over loudspeakers ever help to sell new cars? Or, more importantly to me, provide a calm, peaceful, and relatively quiet environment for customers to wait for their car repairs to be completed? How ‘customer centric’ can it be to demand only to be told that the original repair was not what had been needed… but never fear. This time they had  got it right! 

Worse is to come. 

Is it really ‘putting the customer at the heart of everything we do’ to promise a courtesy car in the event of a mechanical repair being needed, only then to explain that the same customer would need to wait 3 weeks for said courtesy car to become available?

Worse is to come. 

When the original repair fails (through no fault of my own) and it is now a matter of extreme urgency to get the re-work done, how can it possibly be customer-centric for the service department to explain that there is no capacity for quickly fixing the stuff that they got wrong? Instead, I would have to wait 4 days before they could even look at the problem they have caused.

Worse is to come.

After 6 hours of waiting on site, listening to the aforementioned muzak and missing several important Zoom calls (because who would want to inflict miserable muzak onto their clients and, in any case, there is no privacy), only to be told that the original repair was not what had been
needed… but never fear. This time they had got it right!

Worse is to come.

A few days later, I received a call from the dealership to explain that the motor manufacturer would be contacting me to canvass my views on the quality of the service I had received. The good news (as the young lady on the phone kindly informed me) is that if I score them a 4 or a 5, the dealership is more likely to meet their bonus targets. This filled my heart
with love and unbridled gratitude for their never-ending commitment to customer centricity, and I awaited a call from the motor manufacturer with keen anticipation.

Worse is to come.

Rather predictably, the call from the motor manufacturer never arrived, and my one and only chance to express my real thoughts on the lies, deceit, and sheer hutzpah of the dealer outlet passed me by.

This story is not unique. It is certainly not specific to motor manufacturers, and in the claims departments where I spend most of my time, I see this kind of experience being repeated time and time again. If we are truly customer centric, then the structural design of how we work with our policyholders, claimants, and even our suppliers, requires some radical rethinking.

Will it ever happen? I’ll let you know when I next experience a claim with my insurer, or, heaven forbid, when I need to take my car back to the same dealership for future service work!


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