The last thing I wanted to do at 9 am on a Saturday morning was get my car’s oil changed. When my alarm went off, I was not a happy camper. Yet, the morning I was about to have at my local Subaru dealership turned out to be one of the best customer experiences I have had in a long time.
When my boyfriend and I pulled up to the service station, a friendly attendant was there with a smile on his face. He held the door and led us to be promptly checked in by another cheerful representative. While I had been dreading the idea of having to waste precious weekend time on a tedious task, I was instantly put in a good mood as the smell of fresh coffee, donuts, and bagels waited for the guests in the service area. I shared my concern about waiting around with the agent, who informed us that their shuttle service could take us wherever we wanted to go. Just a minute later, a driver escorted us to a car that took us furniture shopping for the hour and a half that our service lasted. Instead of sitting around, we were able to make valuable use of our morning. And when we were ready to be picked up from shopping, the driver thoughtfully pulled up in a larger car, because he knew we would need the extra trunk space for a newly purchased rug. When we got back to the dealership, the attendant had loaded the purchases from the shuttle to my car as we were checking out. Every step was seamless and easy. We were on our way to enjoy the rest of our weekend by 11 am.
I got back into my car that clearly belongs to me indicated by Subaru’s signature (and free) “Badge of Ownership” on the trunk and I smiled. Mine says “My 1st Subaru” and has personalized badges for the activities I love such as photography, art, paddle boarding, biking, and yoga. They are a conversation starter wherever I take my car. The “Badge of Ownership is symbolic of Subaru’s high level of customer retention. Their brand culture is strong, with owners giving each other the signal when they pass each other on the road. I bought my first Subaru without even looking at another brand because my boyfriend’s testimonial of his three Subarus was so convincing. I was about to spread that word too. On my drive home, the first thing I did was call a friend and rave about the level of service I had just experienced.
I would be remiss if I did not mention that the service I experienced when furniture shopping that morning didn’t hit that bar. While I did find what I was looking for, the service paled in comparison. I had to wander to find assistance to get the rug I wanted down from the racks. I found a pendant light I loved, but they only had one in stock. I was informed that they had no way to check the inventory to find the matching one nearby. When I was at the checkout, they had left the rug thrown on the floor and a child was jumping all over it with his sneakers. Not the best impression.
The point of sharing this story is that exceptional experiences are in every retailers’ reach. And they really make a difference to the customer. In 2018, Subaru sold its 9 millionth car in the USA to a loyal customer that was buying his 9th Subaru. And they celebrated with fanfare and #9 balloons. The brand is known for its sentimental commercials that show cars being passed down from generation to generation. They have cult-like brand loyalty. And isn’t that what every brand wants? Every brand desires repeat customers and evangelists who proudly display their “Badge of Ownership.” My boyfriend and I both told the same friend about the exceptional service we experienced that day and now I am sharing it with all of you. This story is not about technology. It’s not about flashy bells and whistles. It’s about the core of customer experience. Nothing they did that morning is out of any retailers reach. It’s about going the extra mile to make sure your customers have a great day. You can do it too.