Those of us who work in the alarm industry put in long hours – that’s a fact. After all, we are providing peace of mind by helping to protect our subscribers’ homes and families on a 24/7 basis, and you never know when an emergency will arise. It just comes with the territory that late nights and weekends are part of the equation, and after a while you do get used to it.
But that doesn’t mean that we live at the office! We do get out sometimes, and are subject to the same kinds of day-to-day demands that everyone else experiences: going to the dentist, picking up groceries or dry cleaning, and other normal chores. And we even have to get our cars serviced periodically, which brings me to the subject of today’s post: building trust anddefining excellence in customer service.
Car Service as Common Point of Reference
Most people I know have a car servicing experience to share – good, or perhaps bad. And now I have one to share. My wife and I happen to have two cars bought at the same dealership. We also have the vehicles serviced there, and up until now the service level has been pretty good: the dealership even has all our survey results to prove our level of satisfaction, since they are quite disciplined about soliciting a review of their performance after each time we visit. And believe it or not, this particular dealership even has their own version of “Core Values” – the same type of guiding of principles that we have here at FrontPoint. As a reminder, one of FrontPoint’s Core Values is Build Trust.
I finally did have a negative experience at our dealership. It wasn’t horrible, but it could easily have been avoided. I took the car in for a minor trouble light issue, only 300 miles short of my next scheduled service. I had forgotten the exact mileage level for that scheduled maintenance (shame on me!), so it did not occur to me to combine the two service trips into one. And since I live about 40 minutes from the dealership, doing so clearly would have made my life easier. So they fixed the trouble light issue, and I was on my way.
Unnecessary Return Trip
A day or two after the trouble light issue was resolved, another dashboard light came on – this time reminding me of the scheduled maintenance. I was of course unhappy to be heading back to the dealership so soon, and when I did bring in the car for maintenance, I let them know. They were somewhat sympathetic, but not tremendously so – and later I found out why.
Survey – and a Missed Callback
When the post-service survey call came from a nice young lady who wanted to check up on my experience, I let her know what had happened. She actually sounded more contrite than the folks at the dealership, and promised to have someone some call me. That call never came (strike two!), so I reached out to the dealership myself.
Sad Commentary, or Brilliant Excuse?
When I reached a senior manager in the service department, what he told me came as a shock. It turns out that in the past, when the dealership has suggested to people that they might want to combine visits in the interest of convenience, the response has been decidedly negative: a surprisingly large percentage of customers felt that the dealership was “trying to sell them something,” and reacted negatively. The dealership received numerous complaints, and so did the auto maker’s US headquarters. As a result, the dealership has stopped making these suggestions!
Lack of Trust
What this signified to me is that the dealership’s customers did not trust the dealership to recommend work based on the customer’s convenience. And as it happens, it gets worse: even when the dealership is recommending work to address significant safety concerns, they encounter serious pushback from car owners who feel the dealership is trying to “pull one over” on them by selling unnecessary parts and labor.
While this sad state of affairs may in part an indictment of the dealerships’ customers, it also strikes me as a horrible breakdown in communication: instead of trying to solve the underlying issue and regain the trust of the customers, the dealership had determined to simply stop doing the right thing – in this case, stop making important safety recommendations in order to avoid complaints. What a shame…
It Starts With Trust
I was reminded that an excellent customer relationship does indeed start with trust, regardless of the product or service offered. That’s why “Build Trust” is FrontPoint’s very first Core Value: the other two, by the way, are “Dream Big” and “Be Awesome.” In our case, when our subscribers are turning to us for the best advice, equipment, technology, and service to protect their homes and families, then that level of mutual dependency is critically important.
Fortunately, FrontPoint is blessed with the best customers in the alarm industry. We work hard to earn that trust, and you can see the results in our best-in-class online reviews and the highest customer retention of any nationwide alarm services provider. As the leader in wireless home security, and the #1 ranked alarm company in the US, honoring that trust is our commitment. And I may need to change car dealerships!