Is the best customer service no customer contact?

by | Jun 21, 2018 | 1 comment

I recently attended an oil change specialist for, yes, an oil change.

They offer great service, have a nice polite franchisee, and a clean facility. I think it’s fair to say that they do a great business, judging by the regular line of cars waiting for service.

But I believe they are hanging onto old norms for customer service practices and maybe you are too.

Let me explain: Upon arrival I was greeted by the attendant and asked what service I required: an oil and filter change.

He came back a second time to inform me of the pricing, and a surcharge over their menu pricing due to the oil quantity my car required and to ask for the go ahead.

All good to here.

But there were at least three more occasions where he felt he had to discuss the process with me that seemed completely unnecessary.

Even after the service was completed, he explained twice the work that was done, step-by-step, line by line on the invoice, the second time after I had paid and was sitting in my car waiting to drive away.

I will say that I believe that person was in all likelihood following the dictated guidelines for communication so I’m not blaming the individual.

But my reaction to this repetitive contact—frustration and annoyance–surprised me. And it got me thinking about how the nature of “good customer service” had changed.

The old school world saw customer contact points as positive things; the more times you can communicate what you are doing, the better the customer will feel about their service experience.

This is no longer the case.

We are now in a world where getting as close to zero human contact is what will define great customer service experience.

You don’t even need to talk to a barista to order your latte. Just use the app and pick it up at the counter. There are countless examples where the need to actually speak to someone has been eliminated, even if there’s a real person on the other end of the online chat utility. Taking the person out of personal service has become the norm.

It’s not exactly new. Remember when we used to line up at banks for that “personal service”? Automated bank machines vastly improved customer service by taking tellers out of the equation for most transactions, plus lines got shorter so the wait was less when you actually needed to talk to someone. Now of course you barely ever have to visit a bank.

So, this is the world in which we live.

If you find yourself and your staff engaging in detailed, repeated explanations of the work you are to do, the work you are doing, the work you have done, and how the charges stack up, you may want to rethink how this really pleases customers who a) trust you to do the work, and b) just want to get on with their life.

Yes in the automotive service business there are certainly mandated points of contact, you may be required to get assent in person or on the phone to conduct work, but you will likely find that online appointment booking, emails and texts –“Your car is ready. The charges are $$$. Bill is attached. We take Visa and Mastercard.”—that minimize personal contact are what will build a positive customer experience.

More and more customers want to drop the keys and go, and then pay and drive away once their car is ready, barely having to see your smiling friendly face.

It may seem a paradox, but the future of your personal service that the aftermarket provides itself on offering may mean the less personal contact than ever.– Andrew Ross, Publisher and Director of Content

1 Comment

  1. antonior

    I have seen more and more of this lately. I was at a grocery store where there was a line at the Self check out even though there were two regular checkouts open and without customers. I also often times hear people complain when they actually have to interact with someone at a fast food place. All that a lot of people today want is to be told when their order is ready and that is it. I hate to think what the future will look like where we don’t have to deal with anyone anymore when making a purchase.


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