Disabled parking bays

Customer Service

Blog by Mike Adams

There is a compelling statistic that says 75% of disabled people and their families have walked away from a shop due to poor customer service or access issues.

If businesses are to realise their share of the £249 billion disabled consumer market (the Purple Pound) then they need to address what they do quickly. Not all businesses. Some have worked it out and are successfully tapping into the market, with the commercial rewards that follow.

During the last two weeks I have faced the two extremes of customer service which has determined where I will never go again and who will retain my business. The complicating factor being both outlets are part of the same organisation but see and do things very differently!

I drive a heavily adapted car which needed its annual service and MOT. The car company (whose name will remain anonymised) helpfully rang me to point out the car dealer I normally attend is 10 miles away and did I know they had a another dealership only 10 minutes away which would make my life a lot easier, and overall experience a quicker one. Due to my adaptions I have always driven the car into the garage and back out again – it means having to wait while the work is completed.

I arrived at the new dealership, completed all the paperwork to then be told that I could not possibly drive the car into the garage for a whole bunch of reasons including the catch-all health and safety. I explained I had done this for the last 21 years but to no avail. The manager making the decision sat in an office (behind a door) and let the receptionist deliver his messages. I asked to speak to him but apparently he was too busy!

It was eventually agreed – via messages through his office door – that a mechanic would drive the car for me. Although surprised I agreed to the approach.

The mechanic came out, took one look at the car and said no.

So we arrived at an impasse where I wasn’t allowed to drive the car and they wouldn’t drive it. The end result: no service or MOT!

A week later I went back to their other dealership, completed the paperwork and serenely drove the car into the garage, waited in the dealership reception, and then drove it back out all completed. I asked the manager how this could possibly be after my previous experience, and he said his garage apply the wisdom of common sense.

The lesson I took from the experience is that applying common sense (putting yourself in the shoes of your customer) goes a long way in delivering a good customer service experience. We know brand loyalty is important to people. I know 8 friends who will never visit that dealership because of my experience.

Multiply my experience to other disabled people and that could have serious implications for businesses that get it wrong, and commercial value who do the right thing.

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