Customer-centric??

I saw this billboard in town and it made me laugh – in a “you’ve got to be kidding me” sort-of way. In fact, I couldn’t get it out of my mind until I took a photo and blog-blasted them.

These folks (I have mercifully cropped out the company responsible) are highlighting their customer service. Which, in my book, means being customer-centric. It’s not about you, the company, right? It’s about me.

And so what is most prominent on this banner of brag-dom? Is it the customer? Noooo…it’s OURSELVES!

Geeeez. Glad you think so highly of yourselves. I’ll go elsewhere…where someone is more centered on me.

Actually, that reminds me. Here’s a real customer-service story. The only billboard for these “service so good” folks will be this blog:

Last week, I was driving to an evening networking meeting which was an hour away. Halfway there, I heard this very loud rumbling sound nearby, as I got off the highway onto a crowded feeder route. Aha, thinks I, there must be a Harley around here, about to pass me. However, a quick glance around indicates that no loud motorcycles are in sight – curious, thinks I, putting my foot back down on the gas pedal and suddenly realizing that the awful sound was emanating from – my car!

Grim. I pull off and realize that I have a very sick vehicle on my hands, and that the evening meeting will surely go on without me. I manage to limp the car to a gas station and call my wife to come and get me there – it wasn’t going any further. This station has no car repair capabilities, but a gas attendant very kindly tells me about a station down the road a few miles that does. That station, in turn, tells me that they cannot take it then (it’s 5:00 pm), but give me a phone number for a towing service, and tell me that they’ll slot me in tomorrow.

The towing service people were super-friendly and ready to help – sure, they’ll come and tow the car in the morning. Then the gas station attendant PERSONALLY takes my key, assures me that he comes in to work at 6:30 am (plenty of margin for the tow truck), and allows me to leave my stricken car locked up there overnight.

I’m in the hands of strangers, 30 miles from home. I’ve handed my car key to a complete stranger. It’s uncomfortable. And this is New Jersey, remember.

However, the car gets to the garage the next morning without incident. I’m in touch that day, back and forth with the service guy at the garage, and they fix what turned out to be damage from a blown spark plug. The charges were surprisingly reasonable. And all for someone they might not see again, who broke down on the side of the road among strangers.

So, Surjit at Pluckemin Exxon – you give me hope that there are decent people everywhere. George’s Towing – you have one nice person helping distressed people over the phone! And Mike Pine at Martinsville Auto – you rock! Here’s YOUR billboard – one that I will remember fondly, unlike the braggarts shown above!

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