December 12, 2018

The Art of Customer Service

I have been trying to buy a car for a couple of weeks and it has been more stressful than anything else. I honestly thought it would be fun and was looking forward to it. It is my first new car in a decade and I was excited about the whole thing. I set an amount to spend in my head, researched cars that fit within my budget, and narrowed it down to three choices. Last weekend I test drove my options, made a decision, and was proud of the work I put into the process.

My joy was quickly squashed by a bad experience at a car dealership. The gentleman assigned to help me was simply not good at his job, and the result of his being inept resulted in my not having fun. Not only did I not have fun, but I changed my mind about the car. I figured if some moron whose job it is to sell me a car didn’t care if I bought it, maybe I just didn’t need a new car. The joy was gone and that is a shame because it started out being quite a big deal to me.

Keyes of Van Nuys failed me, so I started my search over. I blogged about the experience of course, because that is what I do, and was comforted by many of my readers. I was reminded that nobody is allowed to take my joy and I simply needed to shake it off and find someone who understood what the process is supposed to be like, and would be focused on my being happy with my purchase. I needed to hear it and was immediately reminded how much I value my readers. Thank you.

It took your responses to my blog to snap me out of the funk created by a massive failure in customer service. I started my search again, only this time instead of looking for the right car, I was looking for the right salesman. I called around to different dealers, as well as calling a few salesmen friends and readers had suggested. It was nice that people cared and I was motivated to find my joy and get the car I wanted from someone who was interested in selling me a car.

In the midst of my new search, I got a call from Howard Tenenbaum, who is a Vice President at Keyes in Van Nuys. He had read the blog about my experience at his dealership and reached out. He was apologetic and said he was mortified by my experience, assuring me it was not the type of customer service his dealership provides, and he wanted an opportunity to make the situation right and get me into the car I wanted. He seemed sincere and I appreciated the call.

He was actually on vacation with his family and took time out of his trip to call me. He told me he would call again when he returned from holiday. Between the time Mr. Tenenbaum called last week, and yesterday when he returned to work, he had his associate Ramin Hakakian call me two times to check in. Mr. Hakakian was lovely and these two gentlemen worked hard to change my experience with Keyes of Van Nuys. They valued me and understood buying a car was a big deal.

Mr. Tenenbaum called again yesterday, answered all my questions, and told me he’d find exactly what I wanted. By lunchtime the car had been located and was being sent to Van Nuys. I felt excited again about a new car. It is a little bit above my budget, but I have two options from two dealerships so I’ll figure it out and have a new car this weekend. At the end of the day I simply wanted someone to value my business and share in my joy. I wanted a mensch not a putz.

I want to thank both Mr. Tenenbaum and Mr. Hakakian for reaching out. It mattered. It mattered to me as a shopper, and as a writer who shares her truth, it matters that I tell you these gentlemen from Keyes of Van Nuys did the right thing. Whether or not I get the car from them, I appreciate all of their efforts to make things better. They made customer service their focus and are taking care of me. While it is a shame my experience started off as it did, I am grateful for the turnaround.

Whether buying a new car or a cup of coffee, the desire to be respected is the same. I want the person providing me with customer service to have a smile and engage with me as if my choosing their business is appreciated. I want kindness. I want there to be actual service. It’s not too much to ask and should be provided from everyone who works in customer service. If you’re not a people person, maybe rethink your path, find a new job, and start keeping the faith.