A recent visit to the service department of the local auto dealership I purchased a car from two years ago forms the foundation of this analysis. As auto dealerships rely on service departments for the majority of their revenue I thought the experience would be a mix of pure efficiency and relationship building. Previous experiences with this dealership have shown them to be not as trustworthy as I had hoped they would be as well. One of the most critical aspects of transitioning customers from being treated as members of a transaction to actually being fans is trust (Gronroos, 1994). Trust is such a critical catalyst to make a customer experience successful that technologies need to better measure and evaluate this critical component as broader CRM strategies (Mitussis et al, 2006). Going in to the dealership to get a door problem fixed presented the ideal opportunity to complete this analysis.
Analysis of Interaction
Driving up to the customer service window and giving the technician my name and address started the process. He printed out a worksheet and walked out of the small building and asked what I needed done. I explained the door had not been closing completely and the lock would “freeze” in one place and not let go. The conversation went to how the entire lock could potentially need to be replaced to the suggestion of WD-40. In other words, both ends of the pricing spectrum, from the very expensive to the solution that would cost only the can of lubricant immediately were recommended. I asked if they could simply take the lock out of the door and check it out and give me an estimate for no charge as the car was still under warranty. The technician debated with me on whether the car’s warranty covered locks and mechanical items and I asked if he considered a transmission mechanical, as that component was specifically mentioned in the warranty. He nodded and didn’t say another word. I asked him for the cost to look at it and he said there would be no charge. I got the sense that even though the car was under warranty the dealership wanted to still make money on this repair. That troubled me. I gave the technician the keys and he took the car into the repair bays, as I went inside to talk to the service manager and ask them what the policy was on warranty repairs. He told me they were all covered and would take care of it. I asked him if technicians were on commission for how many repairs they sold and he just laughed and walked away.
To this point in the interaction it was clear the dealership looked at me as more of just another transaction to be completed during their day. There was no specific focus on how to take the transaction and transform it into more of a conversation or relationship (Gronroos, 1994). The entire culture of the dealership seemed to resonate with a transaction mindset, as sales people in the coffee room asked if I wanted to see the new models in the showroom “on sale” this...