First of all I will start this article by sharing I am a bit biased today, as I am in the middle of the current Jeep recall as I own a fairly new Jeep Grand Cherokee. While, I am unsure of when I received my Jeep recall information in the mail, it is very recently though, it wasn’t until I was reading the news the other day about Anton Yelchin’s the actor who played Chekov in the most recent Star Trek movies that I started to pay attention. If you are not aware, his own car crushed him, and while it hasn’t been proven to be a defect, the stories lead you to believe his Jeep, which is one on the recall list as well, is the cause.
Needless to say, rather than hear on the news regularly over the past few weeks that there is potentially a fatal flaw in my Jeep (Did, I say fatal, yes I said fatal), I paid attention and opened my recent letter from FCA which I probably would have disregarded as junk mail as I sorted threw all my mail this past Monday. Of since I do not own an FCA I was ready to toss it out, but I do own a Jeep. Of course, I now know that the FC in FCA means Fiat Chrysler.
Armed with this new information, first thing this past Tuesday I called the FCA recall number and the person on the other end of the phone told me she could get me to the service center of my choice. Sounds simple enough, but wait my letter states that a “permanent remedy for this condition is currently under development.” And wont be available until the 4th quarter. I did the math; we are not there yet. So, I share this with my new customer service rep on the other end, and she proceeds to tell me that it will work and there is nothing else she has for me. She then asks if I noticed anything strange about my shifter, and off the top of my head I point out a few things, that now that she mentioned it aren’t normal when I am driving. She didn’t really seem interested in learning more, just said ok, and then she put me on hold. I am sure you see the start of my concern forming, more than a bit uncomfortable in the fact that she asked if I had other issues, I pointed them out and then nothing, just on to the next screen I guess. She came back after the hold and connected me to a service advisor where I usually go, and he sets up an appointment. I then ask him about the fix, and without quoting him exactly basically my take away was that this was absolutely a temporary fix, and while they are not sure it will work, they have no reason to believe it won’t.
Hmm, ok so I or someone else in my family may or may not get crushed by my Jeep. I guess, I should have probably have just said Thank you and moved on. Rather than accept what he said as gospel, but also starting to get the feeling that there may not be one clear message being shared amongst FCA and the Jeep/Chrysler dealerships, I made my appointment and asked about options and was told if I wanted to reschedule or call back, I could do so, and speak with Malcolm.
Now, this is where I start to question customer service and logic as a person, business man, and oh yeah, as a guy who just wrote a book on Networking and how it relates to customer service and growing your business. I called the FCA again, as I really didn’t feel comfortable that the two stories were in sync. While speaking with Brianna (not sure of her spelling) she shared with me that the service advisor gave me wrong information and that my fix was the permanent fix and that a letter stating as much would be mailed out to me after June 29th. So, I said, “great, then do me a favor and send me what you have stating that the fix is permanent.” I can’t do that,” she said. Seemed simple enough, if she had something in writing and was willing to share that as fact verbally, she should be just as willing to share it in writing. Of course, maybe it wasn’t fact, and I am now supposed to play Roulette with my car in the hopes that when I get out it doesn’t pin me into a wall and crush the life out of me.
So, I pondered this for a bit, trying to figure out my next move. I do that, because I understand customer service, and understand what may or may not be the right move when I can objectively view it, but of course I am in the thick of it, so I ask another question and I think this is where I get frustrated with people who don’t quite handle customer service the way I think it should be handled. I asked Brianna what I should do for the week in between their so-called “permanent” fix, and when the letter she is sure will be mailed out to me, but can’t tell me in writing now what it says. Her response basically said I would have to wait for the letter and that there was nothing more she could do. I then asked if there was anything anyone could do or I could speak with, and what about renting me a car, or other options available. Again, broad stroke if you can visualize a blank stare, and a shrug, I believe that is what I got. I don’t count it as rude, I do count it as not having the right tools or procedures in place from the top down to be able to adapt to the consumers thought process. Especially when it comes to something as important as a person’s life.
At this point, Brianna proceeded to inform me, and again not a quote as I wasn’t taking detailed notes, but she informed me that the fix is permanent and in fact there is really nothing wrong with the car and that if you follow the instructions on how to put it in park it will be fine. Whew, I am glad she told me that, now I feel better, maybe I should keep the car running and make sure it is in park, open the trunk, get out and stand behind it, just to prove her right. NOT. I jest, but in the past few days, while waiting for my appointment to get my car in, I can tell you, there has been a great discomfort in driving this car with simple tasks that until I knew this was a problem, I didn’t even think about. Things like, picking up my sons friends and having them put their boogie boards in the back, while I consciously had to turn off the car because of concern, or pulling onto a friends driveway that is sloped and wanting my car on so my son would hear me without being too loud by honking, while I was standing outside that friends front door waiting for him and actually wondering if it was going to roll backwards into the car on the street.
I could go on, but from my vantage point, it doesn’t seem like everyone is on the same page, and as it relates to customer service, instead of telling me what you think you or what you think I will want to hear, if you don’t know the answer, say I don’t know the answer. If you think you know the answer, be willing to own it. Anything else is just hot air. I don’t have time or desire for hot air. I also don’t want to risk my life driving a car that has a potentially dangerous flaw and base my decisions on your assuring me of something that you may or may not know for sure. As a business owner, and a customer services, sales, and Networking expert, I will tell you that if a client is unhappy and does like the answer I give them, that is on me, but the only answer I will or have given are either, this is what I can do, this is how I will do it, and I do not know that and I will get you that answer. And, if I get an answer that says I do not have an answer, I cannot and will not make up something different. What I will do is manage the expectations of the person on the other side of the issue, and that is how customer service should be done. Stay tuned for my next post on dropping of the car and the fix.