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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A bit of a bug bear of mine is the way companies think it's acceptable to offer poor customer service, whether it be on the phone, in a restaurant, in a shop or via email. Now, to me, each form of communication should be treated equally as you are still dealing with your customer, but why is it email is often the poor relation here!?! If you offer the option of email, monitor the damn thing and reply to them.

I know some people believe email is not a good form of communication but I cant for the life of me understand why not? There's nothing worse than attempting to phone someone, being put on hold, leaving a message, then waiting for a call back on something that you then have to try and remember! You could much more easily type up an email and it's gone. On the replying side, it gives you time to reply when you have a bit of time to.

Now, obviously, you still have to await the reply coming back, which is just the scenario that has prompted me to type this rant!.....

My dealer (who shall remain anonymous for now) was spot on with email comms from the very first minute. As I'm a busy guy, that form of comms suited me best. Now my deposit has been paid on my order, comms have become a bit of a struggle. Admittedly, the business manager I was dealing with has passed this over to a salesman to now handle, but the salesman's responses are slow and increasingly inaccurate (hence my posts around the stitching colours!) and I have to chase up every email I sent, which to me is not good enough. Its not good enough if I'm spending £5 never mind near on £50k.

So a couple of questions for my fellow forum members....

Do I expect too much from customer service and in fact email in general?

And is it acceptable to wait over a week with no reply for an answer to a question regarding my order? My thoughts are that I'm not being unreasonable here and I'm very tempted to follow my email up with a slightly less polite email. My usual chasers are me apologising for chasing them!!

Having been in Thailand earlier in the year, I think my expectations of customer service has increased dramatically. They do it so well over there that it actually embarrasses me how badly it can be done here in the uk. Some have it right of course, but others just don't seem to give a damn!

Ok, rant over, thanks if you actually managed to get to this point!
 

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Totally with you...

I am (or was) in the process of selling one of my houses. The estate agent would ring, leave a voicemail with no content (as I often am in a meeting etc so cannot answer the phone in the day). I would try and call back and their phone system was so appalling I either would not reach someone, or if I did the speech was indecipherable due to some bad connection. This is a particular bug bear of mine as my company makes phone systems... I offered countless times my services FOR FREE and they never bit.
Due to this I requested email only communication as for all the reasons you mention it's much easier - they never really got it (despite being an online only agent - ironic!) - it got to the point where I had an offer on the property, which I found out from a voicemail, the didn't mention how much it was for, and I refused to return their calls due to their inability to follow a simple instruction - EMAIL ME!
They tried calling my Mrs, she just said she'd let me know and maybe they should email me as she was in on my displeasure.
The other day they removed the for sale sign from my property with no notice, and they still have a key which they have not tried to return.
The point is I was so disgusted at their poor customer service/communication I was willing to forgo a possible sale on my house!!!

As I mentioned, my company sells phone systems, and we pride ourselves on customer service. If you call, you get a useful person on the phone who WILL find you an answer. If you email you WILL get a response within 1 working hour.... The initial response you get may not have all your answers but at least you have been acknowledged which in 99.9% of cases is all the customer wants - to feel looked after.
We aim to answer/solve all pre-sales/support queries in 3 days, and for the most part achieve this.
It's also not expensive to do this - you just employ a couple of personable people to answer the phone/initial email. And then your highly paid experts etc are free to get on with providing the more complex answers without interruption.
IF a customer has an on-going query beyond the 3 days then we just get all the parties that between them should be able to get the answer (including the customer) on a call - and in 99% of cases this call will get you to a solution in a matter of hours or minutes... Even if this call does not get a solution, the customer is happy as they know you are doing everything you can to get an answer/solution for them.

So far, I am OK with the customer service my dealer has offered me. I have a good relationship with the sales guy (to the point I have his personal mobile number and we text each other reasonably often - he has just ordered an SQ5 and so was asking my advice!!!) - he is often slow on the email front though. The service team I am about to find out tomorrow how they fare, but they called me out of the blue to see how I was doing (and I booked it in for a couple of niggles), so so far so good.

It's probably obvious from my comments on how I run my service dept that I have very high standards of customer service like you. I get VERY irritated but stupidity and neglect in customer service as it is so easy to get right. My Mrs hates it if I am not happy about service in a restaurant for example as I am not afraid to say something - how else will the management find out they are offering poor service - and it is this that I think is part of the UK problem... The general public are too polite and don't feel they can speak up in case of poor service. This leads to 2 things;
1. Establishments don't realise they are offering poor service (stupidity)
2. They do realise they are offering poor service, but they are making money as the public keep using their poor service any way so they don't care (neglect)
The car industry is particularly bad as cars for most are a necessity and so people are forced to take whatever service they are given (unless you want to travel to find a good dealer or are lucky enough to the local to one - as they DO exist)... This is most annoying as a car is the second most expensive thing most people would ever buy!

My company sells 90% of its kit outside the UK, as such the standards expected are MUCH higher and so hence we offer the high level of service. As you mentioned, standards in Asia are super high, and even we struggle to meet some of their expectations (to the point we have turned deals down on the premise we will not be able to provide the support they expect)...

Anyway, I enjoyed your rant, and this was mine!
 
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Haha! Top quality response Jose, I certainly wasn't expecting that reply! It's great to hear from someone that prides themselves on excellent customer service as if it's done well, it makes a huge difference. I'm actually at the point in life where I would rather pay more or travel further to get a better level of service. I admit though, not all people are able to do this and some just don't care as much!

The funny thing here is I actually decided not to use my local dealer due to finding them a little up their own backside, so travelled a little further. I guess the mistake I've made here is sticking with the same group! It's a shame though as the initial contact was good, hence me placing the order.

As you've mentioned above, people in the uk are too polite and don't like to cause a fuss. I too can be guilty of that at times, though usually only in a restaurant where I don't like to make a fuss which is wrong! I reckon I'll provide some constructive feedback in this case and see where it goes.
 

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A bit of a bug bear of mine is the way companies think it's acceptable to offer poor customer service, whether it be on the phone, in a restaurant, in a shop or via email. Now, to me, each form of communication should be treated equally as you are still dealing with your customer, but why is it email is often the poor relation here!?! If you offer the option of email, monitor the damn thing and reply to them.
I know some people believe email is not a good form of communication but I cant for the life of me understand why not? There's nothing worse than attempting to phone someone, being put on hold, leaving a message, then waiting for a call back on something that you then have to try and remember! You could much more easily type up an email and it's gone. On the replying side, it gives you time to reply when you have a bit of time to.

Now, obviously, you still have to await the reply coming back, which is just the scenario that has prompted me to type this rant!.....

My dealer (who shall remain anonymous for now) was spot on with email comms from the very first minute. As I'm a busy guy, that form of comms suited me best. Now my deposit has been paid on my order, comms have become a bit of a struggle. Admittedly, the business manager I was dealing with has passed this over to a salesman to now handle, but the salesman's responses are slow and increasingly inaccurate (hence my posts around the stitching colours!) and I have to chase up every email I sent, which to me is not good enough. Its not good enough if I'm spending £5 never mind near on £50k.

So a couple of questions for my fellow forum members....

Do I expect too much from customer service and in fact email in general?

And is it acceptable to wait over a week with no reply for an answer to a question regarding my order? My thoughts are that I'm not being unreasonable here and I'm very tempted to follow my email up with a slightly less polite email. My usual chasers are me apologising for chasing them!!

Having been in Thailand earlier in the year, I think my expectations of customer service has increased dramatically. They do it so well over there that it actually embarrasses me how badly it can be done here in the uk. Some have it right of course, but others just don't seem to give a damn!

Ok, rant over, thanks if you actually managed to get to this point!
Dodzyboy,
I found your post interesting as I tried to buy my Q5 from, I think, one of the dealers in the same group. Met the sales manager in the dealership after waiting around for over 30 minutes to see a salesman having asked at the reception desk. I asked again when somebody would be out to speak to me and told that as they were busy it would be another 45 minutes. I said that was disappointed and would contact the head of business whom I had met before and suddenly the sales manager appeared to speak to me.
We had a chat about various Audi options as I did not plan to buy a Q5 initially and he said that he would get back to me with answers to the questions I asked.
For the reasons outlined in your post I communicated by e-mail which was initially successful but when I sent e-mails saying that I would be in the area on a certain date and could I drive a couple of the options we discussed I got no answer. Went in on the date mentioned and tried to speak to either the manager or a salesman and same story,"we are very busy sir".
I subsequently e-mailed him to say that I had decided to purchase a Q5 and could we discuss this. Got a reply to say that a specific salesman was dealing with the inquiry and would be in touch. No contact after 1 week so e-mailed again. No contact from sales over next 2 weeks and further e-mails. Disappointing but I assume that this dealer sells more cars than it wants to so not interested.
I contacted the dealer from whom I bought the Q5 by e-mail, got a reply within hours. Couple of phone calls, few e-mails, keen to sell a car and deal done within 10 days.
Picked it up last week-end, great customer service on the day. Only criticism would be that they did not offer me a biscuit with my decent quality coffee in a proper cup and saucer. Picky I know!
Completely different approach to customer service and it was also part of a large dealer group.
 

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My dealer (who shall remain anonymous for now) was spot on with email comms from the very first minute. As I'm a busy guy, that form of comms suited me best. Now my deposit has been paid on my order, comms have become a bit of a struggle.
name and shame. Aberdeen Audi, have always responded to my e mails in a timely / efficient / friendly manner, before my order, after I ordered and after the sale.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
name and shame. Aberdeen Audi, have always responded to my e mails in a timely / efficient / friendly manner, before my order, after I ordered and after the sale.
It was Glasgow Audi. Edinburgh is nearest but I didn't get much interest from them whilst there in person. Both are part of the Lomond group along with Stirling and I think Ayr. I think Aberdeen might be the only Scottish Audi dealer that's not part of the group?
 

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Lomond Group get bad reports. There are Audi dealers in Perth, Dundee, Inverness and Aberdeen - none are part of Lomond. In fact you could try any Audi dealer. M25 Audi were keen to deal when I bought my SQ5 and I bought last but one Audi sight unseen from Stoke Audi delivered for free to Aberfreeze.
 

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Same here.
Aberdeen is part of John Clark's empire(all VAG except Bentley, Lamborghini & Bugatti, plus BMW) with Aberdeen & Dundee Audi outlets. John Hawco in Inverness is a separate company as is Douglas Cameron in Perth. Lookers own all the old Lomond ones; Ayr, Glasgow, Edinburgh & Stirling. Ingram in Ayr was separate and still has VW & Skoda but lost Audi to Lomond 8 or 9 years ago.
4 different companies left I think in Scotland. Historically there were more when a dealer could have VW & Audi together but they separated the brands in the mid to late 90's and several including Inch in Bathgate, Arnold Clark, Ian Skelly/Verve and the Edinburgh dealer whose name I forget ceased to have Audi. Verve, Ingram & the Edinburgh one obtained a "Service Centre" designation but I do not know if these still exist.
 

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Lomond Group get bad reports. There are Audi dealers in Perth, Dundee, Inverness and Aberdeen - none are part of Lomond. In fact you could try any Audi dealer. M25 Audi were keen to deal when I bought my SQ5 and I bought last but one Audi sight unseen from Stoke Audi delivered for free to Aberfreeze.
With regard to Lookers/Lomond I would rate their service depts, not sales, in Stirling & Glasgow as good certainly by comparison with the service dept in Aberdeen for whom customer service is an alien concept.
Without going into great detail for fear of boring you I had a couple of warranty issues on an Audi that I asked them to deal with during one of the variable services, the price of which they could not tell me in advance, including a passenger window that would go down on the drivers door switch but not rise again unless you used the switch on the passengers door. Clearly an issue within the switch panel but not according to Aberdeen who "reset the door glass". Needless to say I queried this on collection but was assured that this was the problem sorted.
Presented with the bill for the service and said to the advisor that I was disappointed that they could not give me an indication in advance of the cost of a variable service which other dealers are able to do. Unenthusiastic response and said he did not care if I did not come back.
Unimpressed I set off home and, yes you guessed it, tried the window which went down but would not rise using the drivers door switch.
Contacted the Service manager in the morning who was disinterested and suggested that I should come back in to get the window looked at again. Another 120 mile round trip with no offer of an apology.
I was going to a meeting in Glasgow the following week and contacted Glasgow Audi to ask if they would consider doing warranty work on a car they did not supply, no problem they said but could I manage to go to Stirling as they could not loan me a car that day, so I booked it in to Stirling. Gave me a car for the day, diagnosed the fault as being in the switch panel and fitted a new high level brake light under warranty, as 2 of the LEDs had gone, without being asked but were unable to fix the window as they did not have the part. Had ordered it and said they would put fuel in my tank when I came back to get the job done. Obviously interested in customer service.
I tried to raise the issue of the Aberdeen Service department's level of customer service two or three times with both the owner John Clark and his senior manager Richard North but neither responded and still have not years later so clearly they have no interest in customers either. Given the lack of response from the bosses it does not surprise me that the service dept give poor service.
There are plenty of other Audi dealers around interested in giving good customer service but sadly Aberdeen is not one of them.
John Clark's VW dealership next door also damaged my wife's car in their workshop several years ago, were clearly not going to tell me and hoping that I would not notice. Although they did eventually fix it after 2 trips to their body shop not once did anybody at grass roots or management level offer any form of apology or make a good will gesture.
 

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Unfortunately most if not all car dealers in Aberdeen take our business for granted. Partly my fault, as I don't tend to stray to other regions when buying a new car, and most of my work colleagues are the same....and we all equally moan about the service. It's not just car dealers that fail in this respect. Shops, restaurants and the like all fail miserably in this part of the world. No longer do you hear thanks and please, but "no bother" or "no worries" as a response or nothing at all.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I guess there are horror stories all over the country and some are lucky, others aren't. I can't say my experience to date has been particularly bad, just not quite up to the levels I expect. Here's hoping they can redeem themselves!

Cheers for all the replies though folks, it's goo to hear other people's experiences and opinions.
 

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I found customer service not great either. Still waiting for replies from 2 dealerships I personally went into. Seems to me that the ability to deal with email traffic is pretty low on most salesmanship skill-sets. As above, I prefer to deal via email as I am busy too...
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
It looks as though my slightly less apologetic style of email last night has done the trick. I got a reply first thing this morning from the Business Manager I was originally dealing with!
 
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