Late last year I took my long-term Volvo XC60 in for a service at Volvo Cars West London in Chiswick.
It was a frustrating experience, punctuated by a series of small problems that left me pretty unimpressed, especially as it was my first experience of a so-called premium dealer.
It also seemed that I wasn’t alone in feeling let down by dealer experiences – the response from autocar.co.uk readers to the story was massive, sharing both good and bad tales.
But this blog isn’t about the problems, but the solutions – all of which have left me very impressed.
Subsequent to my initial report, Tracey Perry, the company’s MD, rang me. Not to shout and complain, but to talk about what went wrong and how she could improve the service on offer.
All very well, of course, but, as they say, actions speak louder than words. A few weeks later I got an email outlining what had changed in the weeks following my visit. Perry was determined to tackle any criticism head on.
In total, 29 company cars were moved off site to improve customer parking. In addition, plans were put in place to prepare and sell new cars off site, and have them delivered to Chiswick only when there was space available.
She subsequently asked if I would attend another meeting, and she and I talked through my experiences in painstaking detail with someone from Volvo head office, so that specific training could be instigated.
While the fact that my experiences were published on Autocar.co.uk undoubtedly had a major bearing on Perry’s response, it’s also worth noting that she says she also talked to other customers to gauge their opinions.
This training is still rolling out, but passing by the other day I thought I’d drop in and see if the reality of Perry’s changes matched the promises.
I can’t compare like with like as I haven’t put a car through a service there, but I have been back, unannounced, to have a wander around.
The signs were entirely positive. For starters, there was none of the parking chaos of my previous visit (although I did have to take the last available space). It’s amazing how much more positive you feel about a place when you can negotiate its car park without needing the prowess of a stunt driver.
There was also plenty of assistance on hand, all offered in a helpful but far from pushy manner. I’ve always been mystified by how, when you are making one of the most expensive purchases of your life, or trying to maintain it, customer service is so frequently appalling (that said, estate agents aren’t exactly shining examples on the whole, either). But, on this snapshot, Volvo West London got it right, in my view, treating my mild curiosity at new models with informative and helpful answers.
Of course, I’d like to go back again, just to see if the service desk had raised its game (which it needed to). After all, this time I was showing an interest in buying a car, rather than having one serviced. Overall, though, the signs were positive.
But perhaps the autocar.co.uk forum users can step in again on this one? I’d be intrigued to know what you expect in terms of customer service from a dealership, and hear about any first-hand experiences.