Saturday, January 18, 2014

Customer Service

Hi all!, I am baaaaacck!!  Actually other than 3 days of training, I didn't go anywhere but today does represent the first day off since Dec 26th. A lot has happened in the LEAF world (as it always seems to happen) and as always, some good will come out of somethings and some bad will come.

The 2014 LEAF has been announced. There was small price jump which is essentially the cost of adding backup camera to all models. I will stick with my previous recommendation that unless you;

1) Have a regular need of 50 miles or less per day

2) Live in an area well supported by public charging options (like work) and don't mind the time to plug in or the cost

3) Live in a cooler area

You should most definitely lease.  What kind of deals the 2014 will have remains to be seen, but the 2013's are being offered nearly interest free. So, if looking for a great deal, you better hurry because the 2013's are going fast.

Living in the Puget Sound region has its advantages. It is protected from Pacific Storms in all directions except one.  So when storms come in from Alaska, the Olympics offer very little protection for us and recently we were hit pretty good. Torrential rains were not too bad. Flooding was actually relatively mild but the wind played havoc causing power outages to thousands.  Not good when you have a LEAF.   Like any power recovery process; the main, more populated areas get fixed first, then crews start working out towards the isolated branches in the network. This means that your house; the one you picked for its isolated, woodsy ambience; may take a few extra days before the lights come back on.

This is pretty much what happened with a Seattle area LEAF owner. She had very moderate needs and despite being a veteran LEAFer, she had never quick charged before.  She never had the need. Her home charger did it all...until the lights went out. This left her with a LEAF not fully charged and errands to do.  But, we also live in one of the most supported areas of the country for EVs.  A lot of public charging options are available. So off she went.

After doing what she needed to do, she stopped at Nissan of the Eastside in Bellevue. She explained her situation and asked to charge and was advised the Eastside fast charger was for business use only but there was a Blink charger on the premises that she could use.  She states she spent 10 minutes trying to get it to work, then left without a charge barely making it home.

Now, that is all we know.  The result of this incident is a very unhappy person trashing the dealership online.  Who is to blame? What went wrong here?

Eastside GM, Jimmy Kalie promises to look into a better solution.  They are planning a move which will give them a lot more room (space was an issue) and a lot more chargers, so that is good. But one thing to think about is that Eastside's charging policy has come under huge scrutiny with many swearing allegience against them because of it.

Eastside's charging policy is a good one and really SHOULD NOT be changed. Currently its used to charge their HUGE fleet of LEAFs (including probably the largest LEAF loaner fleet in the country) and for Eastside customers. They were the first dealer in the area to get a fast charger and it was a HUGE boom to them and us.  It really illustrated the advantage of having one and the dealers in the region were not blind to that fact. Now, we have over half a dozen dealer located fast chargers in the region

What does need to be changed is their level of customer service. Now we can only guess as to the details of the conversation between the LEAFer and the people she interacted with but what is obvious is that she felt uncomfortable enough with the interaction that she did not go back to the dealer with help getting the Blink to work.  This is wrong.  Having sold cars, been in a customer service oriented job (we are all serving customers either externally or internally) and I have seen the job handled one of two ways.

1) Be available to answer any and all question or render assistance when asked ONLY

2) Ask fact finding questions to very customer's level of understanding for the situation, terminology, etc.

IOW; there are some people who won't go an inch out of their way until asked.

As stated above, we can only guess as to how the conversation went but guessing she did say she normally charged at home and that her power was off which is the reason she was so low (apparently not as low as she thought since she "barely" made it home. Its my guess that the "guessometer" is more to blame for the level of stress than anything else...)

This should have been a red flag to the person that she might need help.

"Are you aware we have a Blink Fast Charger here installed specifically for you?"

"Have you ever used one before?"

"Do you have a Blink card, and if not, are you familiar with how to initiate a charge?"

Instead, what happened was a potential future customer (she lives in the neighborhood!) walking off with a bad taste in her mouth which put her in a bad frame of mind which most likely contributed to her inability to get the Blink to work.  So a bit of customer service training will fix it?

Probably not. Although its the right way to go, it won't change the perception the dealership has wrongfully attained.

When the dealership moves and they have more room for chargers, it will probably be easier to do but maybe they should institute a fee for use. Make is a per kwh fee so its reasonable but prevents too many people from camping out.  Make it clear its primary purpose is still business use with very clear expectations of the wait time and that "first come, first served" does not apply if there is a business need or customer.

doing this also allows promotions as well. "Free charging this weekend for anyone testing driving a new Nissan at the Eastside! 

Heck, when I was selling cars, we gave away stuff nearly EVERY weekend. Seahawk banners, coffee cups (with our name on it of course), t-shirts, hotdogs, you name it. One thing I realized; it didn't matter as much what is was we were giving away or its value as long as the word "free" was emphasized.  All we wanted to do was increase foot traffic.  It was the 2.4 in 100 that "might" eventually lead to a sale. So, its not like it was a great way to drum up business, but it did work

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