Monthly Archives: August 2011

The RAC: My Analysis

In my previous blog I took a light hearted look at the incident of my car breaking down in France.  I wanted to illustrate how little we know about our customer as we make our initial greeting. They come into our sphere of influence carrying their baggage in a myriad of forms and we are expected to give them our best possible attention.

In this case how did they do it?
1.  I had one primary contact. Steve.  I was his customer. When he was off-shift I was treated as Steve’s customer with his colleagues lending a hand.  Two other RAC colleagues took up the baton on his behalf but I always felt that I was someone’s concern not just another motorist stranded at the side of a road.
2.  Steve took charge yet I remained in control.  I was given options, asked what would suit me best.  He even tapped into my local knowledge.  I was involved.  The whole experience was designed around me. I belonged to the team who were effecting my rescue, we were all working together towards getting my car working and back on the road,
3.  Every interaction built a bond of trust.  Phone calls were always returned when promised.  Calls were made to check that other suppliers were playing their part and that I was happy with what had taken place. 
4.  They engaged with me brilliantly.  Each person I encountered empathised with how I was feeling at the time.  This takes a great deal of skill, as my demeanour changed over the four day period we were in contact.  To start with I was unsure and really quite anxious; later I was calm and back in holiday mood. At each point they read the situation.
5.  I had a consistent experience.  Each member of the team gave me the same level of attention and care as the others.  So often, organisations might have one or two great people only for one person to let the side down.
6.  They delivered.  The most important part of my experience was that everything that Steve and his colleagues said would happen did and to my expectations.
The result, a very happy customer who is willing to talk about his experience to anyone who cares to listen.  Most importantly I will buy this cover again with complete confidence.  Not only did Steve and his colleagues do the job really well they have also turned this customer into an advocate and ensured future sales.  What more can there be?
‘Advocates are 22 percent more likely to purchase bundled products, 28 percent more likely to anticipate increased spending with the company in the near future, and 25percent more receptive to information about new or upgraded products.’  Lorena Harris 2011

Customer Experience Heroes: The RAC

At one time motorists belonged to the AA (Automobile Association) or the RAC (Royal Automobile Club) who would come to your aid when your vehicle ground to a halt at the side of the road.  People were very partisan and proud to belong to one or the other.  You would have a badge on your car to show which motoring organisation you belonged to.  The uniformed crews would even salute their members’ vehicles as you sped past. 
We were in the RAC and I proudly carried on this tradition recently; buying their European Breakdown Cover for my road trip to France.
Our destination was Provence, with its quaint towns, lavender fields, and spectacular scenery.   Well that’s the gist of the sales pitch I used on my wife.  There are also miles, (sorry, kilometres) of fabulous winding roads, cafe stops and mountain climbs for anyone who happens to have a bike smuggled under the back seat of their car.  The most famous is the Mont Ventoux climb, 1100m to the top, steeped in Tour de France tradition and a route I have always wanted to ride.
After the obligatory markets, churches, and general touristy stuff, enough ‘brownie points’ had been acquired so that I could ride Ventoux. We drove to the starting point, a beautiful town called Sault.  As we neared our destination however, my car dashboard lit up like a Christmas Tree.  We parked in the town square next to the travelling Circus (and zoo) to study the car handbook.

The decision was made to switch off, have lunch (this is France and no great decision is taken before lunch!) and then reboot the engine.  By then my car will have forgotten its problems and I would embark up the mountain.  All would be well.

But it wasn’t. By then, dressed in tight lycra cycle shorts, and a bright yellow jersey I may have easily been mistaken for one of the travelling Circus performers. I was now overtaken by the moment.  Severe disappointment loomed and I, overcome by a childish tantrum, wrenched a branch from a nearby Sycamore and proceeded to thrash my car with it, Basil Fawlty style.  All of this was being closely observed by two acrobats, a Circus ringmaster, llamas, a goat, a small pony and assorted poultry.

As I stopped to catch my breath I caught a glimpse of the startled crowd. It seems that even seasoned circus performers had never witnessed such an outrageous display.  My wife handed me a phone and the number for the RAC.

When Steve Rowe arrived at work that morning there is no way he could have envisaged that later that day he would be engaged in a meaningful conversation with a lycra-clad, overheated, frustrated cyclist customer who had just humiliated himself before an entire Circus (and Zoo).

Well done Steve.  He managed understand what was going on and most importantly me. He sorted tow trucks, garages, taxis and I even got to ride my bike back to our accommodation from the garage.  Every customer is unique; it’s just that some are more unique than others.  RAC I salute you.