. The Transom .

Thursday, June 05, 2008

How much does service cost?

A little while ago I went car shopping with a friend. He was looking at a Honda and a Ford. Long story short, we never made it to the Ford dealership because he bought the Honda. But what struck me about the Honda dealership was their service... or lack of service.

Once we parked and walked into the showroom, no one greeted us, the receptionist at the desk made eye contact but didn't say hello or get up. Several salespeople were in their offices, yet no one came out. We snooped around and sat in the Honda S2000 (my friend's eventual purchase). After determining that he wanted to take a test drive, I walked up to the receptionist desk and asked if any salespeople worked here. She turned to the first office on her left and asked loudly, "Dave, are you busy?"

"Are you busy?" Did she really just ask if someone was too busy to sell a car? The service bar was set and never went north of mediocre from there on out. But the car won the day in my friend's eyes, not the 'service.'

I drive a Lexus. Until the Honda visit, I didn't fully appreciate the service that goes with that purchase. I'm always greeted promptly, offered a beverage or if I'm waiting, an office in which to make calls or plug in my laptop. There are complimentary soft drinks, coffee, tea and bagels. When I'm speaking with anyone from the service tech to the salesperson, I'm always treated promptly and with respect.

I know that Honda isn't Lexus. But does it cost that much more to have your salespeople show interest, to make the customer feel, oh I don't know, appreciated? Honda failed that test miserably. And that's partly why brands like Honda, Ford, or Nissan will be stuck in lower priced markets. It would cost next to nothing to improve customer service and would allow them to charge a premium.

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