Monday, 19 July 2010

It's all around!

For quite a while now I have meaning to write a post about services marketing and it's effect on consumers.

It wasn't until I began learning about it at University that I even realised service marketing existed. A trip to the car garage was just that, I went in, discussed the strange noises my car was making and didn't give a second thought to the service unless a member of staff was extremely rude or particularly good looking...

I have just bought a new car - a Mini - and was having some trouble with the electric windows. I took it to my usual garage but because the problem was a little complicated they suggested I took it to the dealership. This is normally something which fills me with dread. You walk into the showroom with tiled floors, high ceilings and well turned out staff. I also tend to forget what I went in for when faced with all the new model BMW's. Plus it costs a bomb and once your car disappears into the back you have NO idea whats happening to it.

The first communication I had with Mini just oozed professionalism - the lady I spoke to on the phone was very friendly and helpful. This was the first critical incident point and they had succeeded in making it positive. The phone call was promptly followed up with a text message reminding of my appointment both that day and again a few days before I was due to take it in.

When I took my car in I was ushered towards a shiny desk where my details were in put into the computer. I left feeling like my car was in safe hands. They called when promised and the situation was explained fully to me in my language...I picked my car up the day after and was very happy with the service I had received.

It wasn't until I got it home however that I had the best bit...yes....indeed....they had washed it. I spent the whole afternoon thinking to myself how nice of them it was. Silly I know...probably one of the most expensive car washes I have ever had - the kids down the road do it for £3 and some sweets...but it was the little extra touch of customer service that left me smiling and made the level of cognitive dissonance I felt was limited.

At every critical incident point Mini dealership made an effort to make the experience a postive one. I believe they were focused more on the theatre metaphor, based on performances, with the actors encouraged to develop their own scripts with their smart attire being their costumes. The garage down the road however is based more on the factory metaphor, getting the cars in and out and the money handed over.

Going that extra mile for consumers and over delivering will more than likely get you repeat custom - give them something they aren't expecting.

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