Published on: November 13, 2012by Michael Sansolo
When it comes to customer satisfaction these days, business is wise to heed the sage words of Yoda, the Jedi master from the Star Wars movies. Yoda, you may recall is a diminutive creature who reminds us not to judge him by his size.
The Force (the mystical power in the realm of Star Wars) is Yoda’s ally and it’s one powerful ally.
Despite the similarity of my last name to Han Solo, I don’t have access to the Force. I have something better: Yelp.
And I'm not afraid to use it.
Overall, I am a really good consumer. Because I’m sympathetic to business I try hard to stay calm in the face of frequently questionable service. I know the challenges businesses have and I know that the person facing complaints usually has little or no power to change anything.
But even I have my limits.
A few months back, I bought a new car. I have a dealership I love because its pricing is clear and transparent, the salespeople are low-key and my satisfaction (for those rare occasions when I buy a car) is usually pretty high. This time, it wasn’t. This time the sales help was confusing and somewhat annoying. Thanks to the Internet the power of car buying has moved to the consumer and I was able to navigate the process on the terms I wanted. So despite the problems, I made the purchase.
Sadly, the story doesn’t end there. My car came with temporary tags, as is usually the case, and I started getting concerned six weeks later when those tags were getting close to expiration. So I called the dealership to find out the status and was assured I would get a call with information later that day. Three days passed with no call.
Now I was getting really irritated, but I remained calm and called again. This time I was assured an answer was coming within the hour. No call ever came. Now with only a week left on my tags I made two more fruitless calls. Then I accessed the Force.
More correctly, I posted a detailed complaint on Yelp, the consumer review website. I made sure the review was measured and detailed, but also made it clear that I, a repeat customer, was being chased away with terrible customer service.
Suddenly, the dealership shared my urgency. Within two hours I got both an e-mail and a phone call to explain that the problem was with the state motor vehicles department, which is hardly a surprise in any state. To my delight the entire situation suddenly became a priority and my tags were delivered one day before the temps expired. In gratitude, I pulled the Yelp review.
The question that nags me is why it even came to that. All I needed was one call from the dealer explaining the situation and reminding me that they were working for me. Silence wasn’t golden; it was poison.
Today all merchants live with Force-enabled shoppers. With little or great justification, shoppers can use sites like Yelp to share complaints widely. Honestly, I have to give this dealer credit for responding so quickly and correctly. But it never should have gotten that far.
It’s equally important for companies to recognize that shoppers no longer have to settle for dissatisfaction. Every employee is now on the front lines and rude or dismissive customer service no longer has to be ignored. Now the experience can be shared and damage can be done.
Because like Yoda, we have the Force on our side and are not be underestimated.
Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org . His book, “THE BIG PICTURE: Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available by clicking here .
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