Service Alchemy

Sometimes a good service rep is all you need to transmute a bad experience into a good one.

I had the opportunity to visit O’Neill Motors, who are the only Nissan dealership within driving distance, for service recently.  I bought an Altima when I was living in Ontario a few years ago, and I’ve been really happy with the car and the Nissan experience in general thus far, but my visit to O’Neill was a mess.  I sat with a technician during a test drive, and he identified at least 3 different problems with the vehicle.  When we got back to the dealership he assured me that he would speak to someone at the service desk.

Then he disappeared.

Not sure how to proceed, I waited a little while, then I went to the service desk and asked what was happening.  The girl at the counter did not seem to know who I was.  I guess the normal service desk person had left for lunch, so they asked me to wait.  I was on lunch break and the dealership is located well out Topsail Road in Mount Pearl, a good fifteen minute drive from my office, so this made me uneasy, but I complied.

Half an hour later there was still no sign that I was going to see anyone, so I let the girl know that I needed to leave.  She took my phone number and assured me I would receive an appointment soon, then asked if I needed a ride back to work.  I said that would be appreciated, so she checked with their client shuttle, which, it turned out, was somewhere in CBS, which to my mind, at least, meant “half an hour away”.  Perhaps it was considerably closer; it’s impossible to know now.  I do know that I did not feel comfortable chancing it, so I called a cab.  $35 later, I was back at work.

Later that day I got my car back, and it immediately became apparent that while the worst of my issues were gone, the vehicle was still not working correctly.  I called again and arranged another appointment.  Their schedule is, I gather, quite full, so the lead time there is on the order of two weeks (another article I should write, that).

While I have been waiting, however, something quite lovely happened.

First, I received a Nissan service survey.  I haven’t felt the need to fill these out over the years, as the bulk of my service requirements have been quick and relatively minor.  The car is off lease now, however, and I was so dissatisfied with this first appointment at the dealership that I had to respond in depth.  I gave them low marks across the board, and my urge to vent was more or less satisfied.

On its own that’s not so great, of course.  Receiving a survey after a purchase or appointment is pretty standard in the age of email, and most of the time nothing comes of putting forth the effort to provide detailed feedback to a business.

In this case, however, I received a call from a very pleasant service rep, who explained that she had spoken with all of the people in the business who’d been involved in my appointment, and had gotten a picture that more or less matched my presentation of the experience.  She apologized, and they offered me a number of assurances that have made a material impression on me.  First, that they were profoundly sorry and agreed with my assessment of the situation.  Second, that for my troubles they would be happy to provide my next service appointment free of charge regardless of warranty coverage.  Third, that they would do their best to provide a loaner car to allow me to get there and back without issue.

I don’t really expect good service; it’s not something many places do well.  But in this case they’ve done everything right in a bad situation, and I have to say I’m pleased about it.  I wasn’t trying to get this response; I was just profoundly disappointed with my first experience.  Their excellent response to the situation, however, has ensured that I am happy to look at another Nissan someday, perhaps even one from a pleasant little dealership in Mount Pearl.

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