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February 26, 2013

Mechanics and the Apple Store experience

by chelsea

It is interesting how this class, Customer Value Analytic has changed my perspective on how I am treated at a business. The other day, I had to get a state inspection for my car (for a 20 year old car, it keeps on chugging!) Normally I would just sit around and read the latest People magazine but this time I found myself analyzing their customer service approach and how it stacked up against Apple.

Upon entering the building I was immediately greeted and beckoned to the counter by a nice middle age woman. We exchanged pleasantries and since I had called earlier in the week to make an appointment  my keys were handed over in less than 60 seconds. Good start! However, I was not given a time frame to help “reset my internal clock.”

As I waited in a not-so-comfortable chair, I had a great view of how the mechanic’s office worked. There were many people on staff, so everyone was welcome upon arrival and immediately helped. Even the obviously flustered customer whose car alarm wouldn’t stop going off was helped in a polite and economic way. As part of their service model, one mechanic was in charge of calling customers to clarify car work or speak with parts-sellers. His work was right in the front which I found a bit off putting since I didn’t care if Customer A wanted shocks on the front wheels or back wheels. However, I admired their efficiency at handling problems as they arose.

About 30 minutes into my wait (and my boredom rising) I was contacted by an employee. Immediately my internal clock was reset. They told me what needed to be fixed and how they would do it (in a way that saved me money and time!) The employee walked me through the process and answered my questions. I was then told it would take “around 30 minutes” to fix my car.

I was very satisfied and felt like they appreciated my time, even if it wasn’t going to make them the big bucks. I watched how they interacted with other customers and how the customer was contacted at every step of the way. Car maintenance can be expensive and frustrating but this mechanic shop optimized the customer touch points to induce a feeling of security and appreciative-ness. I also noticed that although they offered free transportation while your car was in the shop, not many customers took the offer (myself included.) However, just the offer made me see the shop in a better light.

The mechanic shop isn’t  an Apple Store. But I left feeling satisfied and that my time wasn’t wasted. The employees were nice and knowledgeable  It might not have had the ambiance of  Apple (the smell of car oil is hard to get rid of) but the experience was partially modeled after it.

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