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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Operation was Successful, but the Patient Died!

This is a story of what should have been a fantastic retail customer experience but failed. Everything was perfect and more until the last and most important step in this sales experience with a very large auto parts retailer. I have a 12 year old Jeep Cherokee Classic that sits parked most of the time. It is our work horse carrying DIY stuff, plants, bicycles and our dog. The battery was not holding a charge and needed replacement. I went online to this auto parts store located very close to my home. No other reason. I got on their website quickly found my battery with supporting great reviews. While on the website I used their online chat to confirm they would install this battery at their store. Can you see it coming? The answer in the chat box was absolutely they would install for free and that if I bought right now online I could get an instant $50 off coupon. BAM, I will buy now please give me the coupon. The battery was $125 so my cost was $75 dollars with a 3 year guarantee.

I got the coupon number and applied to the order for pickup at my local store and quickly received an email that the battery was there awaiting my arrival. I did not go to the store the next day, but surprisingly received another email politely reminding me to come to the store for my battery. I was stoked about the experience and the follow-up!  I arrived at the store that Saturday morning with two folks behind the counter serving customers but traffic seemed light. They quickly served me and re-affirmed the battery was ready for my pickup. I said wait, "I need you to install this", my Jeep and dog are waiting in the parking lot. I could tell at that point the young man was not excited at the thought of working on my car and for free. He even joked that there was a service charge, but then saying he was just kidding. What he really meant is he expected a tip. It took at least 20 minutes with me going in and out of the store bugging this young man to get him out into the parking lot to change my battery. He did a great job in a very quick amount of time. I shook his hand and handed him a twenty dollar bill. He was all of a sudden smiling again and I was off.

After what I thought was a great experience on the web including the logistics of having my battery picked and waiting on me this retailer almost turned this transaction into another one of those stories of dissatisfaction. I was not upset because this is what I expected for service and the $50 made it worth the extra hassle. Operationally using their technology the experience was flawless but the patient (being the experience) unfortunately died in the recovery room. The human factor or that point of contact with the employee made my experience less than great and I will probably go to another auto parts retailer the next time the need arises. Do what you say you are going to do in an excellent manner! This is customer-centric retailing. What are you doing?