Don’t let high demand be an excuse for slipping standards

  23 August 2020

Speaking to several retailers in the past week has given me the impression that not only has August been strong, but that the September order bank is filling nicely.

Yes, there’s still some long-term uncertainty, but right now, business is a lot better than expected, with high levels of consumer demand.

In that rush to satisfy this, customer experience standards can slip, but equally, they can soar. In the past week I’ve been told of one particularly poor experience and personally experienced one really good experience.

Both are from premium franchises in my area.

Because I’d like to end on a positive note, I’ll cover the bad one first.

A friend was in the market for a new Audi e-tron. Doing the deal was simple and straightforward, but as soon as that was done, the experience went downhill.

At first it was mostly just down to a lack of communication about when the car would arrive (despite my friend choosing a car that was in stock). Then, after many delays, the icing on the cake was the way the car was delivered.

Remember, we’re talking about a premium brand, and a car with a list price in excess of £60,000.

I know social distancing applies, but just flat-bedding the car to a house and handing over the keys, with no explanation of how the car works – remember this is a full EV and the buyer’s first ever electric car – or how it charges, or how the connectivity works, is far from ideal.

Better still, a completely blank handover checklist was left in the car, which just served to highlight what my friend hadn’t been given.

It’s not just sales that are busy at the moment. Getting a service booking is also tricky.

Which takes us to the good experience. Our six-year-old family 3 Series needed a new battery and an aircon recharge at short notice before our holiday.

Vines of Guildford were excellent, and while they were busy and couldn’t give an exact slot for the work, they listened to my needs (a speedy fix) and said that if I could leave the car with them for a few days, then they’d make sure the work was done when they had spare time.

This is exactly what happened. They kept me fully informed along the way, and it’s reinforced my trust in them – and the likelihood that I’ll keep going back to Vines.

If demand outstrips supply on both sales and aftersales for the foreseeable, then customers have little choice. However, as soon as supply and demand returns to normal, it will be the experience that customers remember.

Tristan Young

Editorial Director

Auto Retail Network

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