They screwed up, but I am still going back

So this just happened…. I took my VW Beetle in to get the door handle fixed.

The door handle was fixed, except… it was the wrong door handle.

As it happened, my car had two door handles needing repair.  On the drivers’ side, the handle that you use to pull the door shut was loose. Didn’t really care about that one.

The larger priority in my mind was the passenger door… the handle that you pull to OPEN the door was inoperable, meaning that the passenger (usually my wife) had to either roll the window down and open it from the outside or wait for me to come around and open it for her.  She was NOT doing a Dukes of Hazzard maneuver.

So, I made an appointment to get the door handle fixed. I went to the shop, gave them my keys and they went to work. It wasn’t until I got back into my car that I noticed something was amiss.

There was painters (blue) tape on the drivers side handle.  I thought… “oh, they noticed that and fixed that, too!  Sweet!”  (Not with painters tape, that was just holding it while the silicone cured).  Then I reached over and tried to open the passenger door.  Nothing doing.

I went back in to the shop and talked to the mechanic.  Apparently there was a miscommunication.  Hmmm… how did that happen?

Let’s look.  Re-read the parts where I talk about getting the door handle fixed.  I did it twice in this post.  Neither time did I mention that it was the passenger door.

It’s QUITE possible I didn’t mention it to the mechanic, either.  I honestly can’t remember. In my mind, the door handle that NEEDED to be fixed was the passenger side.  However, if they never got in or out of the passengers side, they wouldn’t have noticed it.  They noticed the drivers side and that was that.  That’s the one they were going to fix.

Part of the customer service “discovery” process is to MAKE SURE you know precisely what it is that the customer is looking for.  In this case, a clarifying question about which door handle needed attention would have saved us both some time.

But here’s the thing.  I’m not mad about this.  Not even a little angry.  So not angry or upset that I will still RECOMMEND this shop and will go back whenever my Beetle needs attention beyond my skill set (and not just to fix the other door handle!).  And why… because of the way they treated me and the way the mix up was handled.

Here is what I mean:

  • They remembered me – as soon as I walked in, they knew what I was there for (even if it WAS the wrong handle) and that I had been there before for something else. Being new in town, this was only my second trip there, yet they still remembered.
  • They were genuine – It was a small shop, so I imagine that the same people deal with each customer.  Still, I got the feeling that I mattered to them, that they were going to take care of me and that my car was in capable hands.  They made eye contact, smiled, and didn’t treat me like I was a car-idiot.
  • They owned up to the mistake – there was no, “well, you said it was that one” or “well, sucks to be you”.  When shown what was supposed to be fixed, it was “wow, I am so sorry. I should have clarified which one you meant. Most of the time we deal with the other side. We’ll make it right.”

And I am sure they will make it right.  So many of my experiences with this shop have been right, that it over powers this one that was not-so-right (especially when I probably contributed to this). And that is why I will be back.

What about you?  Is your service so good, and the way you treat your guests so genuine and exceptional that they will overlook little (or even medium-sized) missteps?   Do they give you the benefit-of-the-doubt if something isn’t quite up to expectations?

If you treat people like the fine folks at Eurotechnik in Hendersonville, NC treated me, (and be sure to ask clarifying questions!), they will.

Thanks for reading!


About the author:  After 20+ years in hospitality leadership and human resources, Matt Heller founded Performance Optimist Consulting in 2011 with one simple goal: Help Leaders Lead. Matt is now in high demand with organizations large and small to help them improve leadership competencies, customer service, employee motivation and teamwork. His book, “The Myth of Employee Burnout” addresses how leaders can overcome the all-too common phenomenon of employees burning out, or losing motivation over time.

4 thoughts on “They screwed up, but I am still going back

  1. I’m a fan of the Dukes of Hazard, but that aside, it’s nice that you found such a nice shop to take the VW to and some genuine people that work there is even more of a of a reason to keep going. I have not had bad customer service at car shops (that I can remember), but I have had serious customer service issues with the medical staff here in CA. So bad that I have had to change doctors a couple of times. I would go in to more detail, but my post would be too long. Thanks for the nice post! It’s nice to see there are still good people out there in the customer service area.

    • Thanks for the comment! I am sorry to hear of the struggles you have had with medical service. I know a lot of health care groups are really trying to focus on actual customer service, but it’s a slow process. Don’t ever worry about a post or comment being too long (at least for me). It’s important to spread the word about what’s important to you because most likely it is important to others. Have a great weekend!

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