For those of you who read my Blog post at written on the 22 April on customer service, which referred specifically to my experience buying an ix35 from Hyundai, I thought I would provide you with an update three weeks on.

For those of you who did not read my Blog post on the 22 April, essentially I ordered a Hyundai ix35 in August 2010, waited 9 months for my car and received pretty appalling service from Hyundai along the way. My increasing dis-satisfaction with Hyundai culminated in the most unceremonious moment when I actually received the car, which was a pity because this is the first grown-up car I have ever bought and it should have been an exciting experience. This has all resulted in me having a very bad impression of Hyundai’s ability to provide any customer service at all, let alone a fantastic customer experience. My argument was that surely, in a competitive market where loyalty doesn’t exist, it would be in the interest of any sales person to not only provide good service, but exceed expectation, particularly when somebody has had to wait 9 months for your product. Hyundai’s treatment of me has smacked of apathy at best and arrogance at worst.

However, I just want to make it abundantly clear that the car itself is absolutely fantastic and I am loving every minute of it. This begs the question, are Hyundai riding on the fact that they have an exceptional product; and is this good enough to stay ahead in highly competitive and particularly in difficult economic times?

I would have to say the answer is no.

Primarily because there are lots of exceptional products on the market. Essentially the focus for any sales person need no longer be product when selling, because the market assumes you are offering a good product. The sales person didn’t have to sell me the car, I already knew what I was buying because I had investigated everything I needed to know about Hyundai’s ix35 (and all the competitors in it’s class) on-line before I had even booked a test drive. What the sales person’s job involves today is selling a positive customer experience, which encompasses service as well as some kind of person to person connection. After all we are living in a connection economy.

One of my Blog readers shared an amazingly experience he had when purchasing a new car recently. After receiving good service it came to the day when he would actually take ownership of the car. He had driven quite a distance to the town where the transaction was taking place and when it came to paying, realised that he had not arranged for his Internet banking limit to be increased to accommodate the amount being transferred. It was too late to go to a bank; and he thought he would have to drive all the way home and come back the next day. However, despite the fact that this was not the car dealership’s fault, in response they put him and his wife up in a local bed and breakfast for the night, so that they would be in town in the morning to go to the bank and try the exercise again.

Now that is not only good service, but it exceeds expectation, it’s finding solutions for an individual problem, it’s connection, that is customer experience. I am sure he will be loyal to Mahindra for life and possibly will convert some of his friends in to being as well. That is what selling is all about today.

Hyundai have unfortunately still not got it right. I dread phoning them now because through-out I have felt like I am a burden to them. I keep having to remind myself I just gave them nearly R300 000.00 in cash so I am entitled to come service. Since I have owned the car, I have had a couple of calls asking how I like the car, but no apology or even acknowledgment of their bad service. I had to phone them to remind them that my temporary registration plates were going to expire in 48 hours and remind them I needed my permanent plates. I have had to phone them daily to remind them they owe me the interest on the R300 000.00 which sat in their bank account for a month before giving me my car. Three weeks later, I still don’t have the check.

What can I say? I think Hyundai have a lot to understand about customer experience. I would love to suggest they need training, but that might look like I am soliciting business!

What I will offer to them for free is this: I don’t think anybody, regardless of how fantastic their product is, can afford to be spoken about in a negative light. I think everybody has the capacity to make mistakes, but I also believe that it is our ability to learn from those mistakes, or rectify those mistakes, that sets us apart. Hyundai could have made me the most loyal customer for life if they had handled the 9 month delay sensibly.



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