Jose Palomino

The Owner is the Customer, Not the Car: Lessons in Customer Service from Porsche

August 23, 2016

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12 times in a row, Porsche AG has achieved the highest customer satisfaction rating in the US. The auto group has an intense focus on customer service and communication that has landed them in first place in the JD Power Institute’s APEAL Study. They’ve reached the top — Porsche is the epitome of excellence in customer relationships.

What Porsche understands, however, is that customer service is not just a box you can check on the way to success. It requires constant nurturing and relentless improvement.

The Owner is the Customer, Not the Car

One of my friends told me about an incident that he experienced last month with his Volkswagen Touareg. The right tail light was out, and the bulb to replace it was very hard to find. Since the car is a VW, he went to the VW dealer for help — as any sensible person would.

However, the VW dealership was operating with a skeleton crew. There was only one employee who knew how to locate and replace the tail light bulb, and he was not working that day. My friend clearly needed the bulb — in order to drive legally and safely. But despite this, the VW dealer sent him away without having helped at all.

Since he also owns a Macan, my friend decided he might as well try the Porsche dealer for help. After all, Porsche is owned by Volkswagen.

They sent an employee out to the car to help my friend try and remove the dead bulb, while another employee went to see if they had a fresh one. They weren’t used to dealing with VWs, but they did their level best to find a solution to my friend’s problem.

The car that my friend was having trouble with wasn’t the one they sold him. However, because he is a Porsche customer, they sent out their full arsenal to try to help him. Even though they weren’t ultimately able to replace the light, their service was exceptional. [By the way, my friend finally found and replaced the bulb at a VW dealer in New Jersey, a full day later.]

There is No Substitute

According to a recent survey by the Luxury Institute of New York, Porsche AG is the most prestigious luxury automobile brand in the US. The auto group has received exceptional ratings in customer satisfaction for over a decade, second to none.

But they know that there is no substitute for improvement. They ranked only 9th in JD Power’s Customer Service Index in 2015, and Porsche’s US Chief Detlev von Platen expressed disappointment with their performance, stating “I’m not happy about what we have done in terms of customer satisfaction performance.” He thinks it’s a question of mindset — of really focusing on and remaining committed to improving customer service across the board.

My friend’s experience with his VW proves to me that Porsche is willing to go the extra mile for its customers. But more than just maintaining excellent individual experiences, von Platen wants to become a benchmark for customer service.

Bottom line:


 
Customer service is a moving target. Your company should take a page out Porsche’s book — never be satisfied with your customer relationships. There’s always room to improve, even when you’re the best.

  • Do you hold your company to a high standard of customer service across the board?
  • Do you always try to help your customers find a solution — whether or not the problem is in your specific area of expertise?
  • Have you communicated with your customers about their experiences with you?

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