How to Turn a Disaster into a Great Customer Experience

a.o.k cex wow Nov 12, 2018

Car dealers have received some pretty poor press over the years and perhaps rightly so. But there are examples of businesses that now demonstrate great examples of how to WOW their customers.

One of our favourite brands and clients found within the retail automotive sector is the Sytner Group, part of US giant the United Automotive Group. The Sytner Group was founded by Frank Sytner in 1960′s and has become the most successful premium brand dealer group in the UK. The Group aim is “To be famous for delighting customers, employees, manufacturers and shareholders”, which has been their driving ambition since it first came into being in 2001.

Image courtesy of Sytner Sheffield

One of my favourite customer WOW stories was shared to me by Peter Mitchell who at the time was Assistant Bodyshop Manager of Sytner’s dealership in Sheffield. Peter shared his story of how he WOW’d one of his customers.

The customer had just taken delivery of a new BMW and within a couple of weeks had an accident in the car. Another driver had driven into her shiny new car, her pride of joy. To the customer, this was a disaster.

I guess most of us can empathise with the customer’s situation. It’s bad enough having an accident but when your car is just a few days old, suddenly the shine of your new ‘toy’ quickly fades. Peter had to manage not only the repair of the car itself but in the first instance a tearful customer who’s dream of owning a BMW had been tarnished by this recent incident.

The repair took several days to complete and was duly finished on the day promised. Recognising the customer’s disappointment with her car being damaged – after all it was no longer new – Peter decided to try and re-connect the customer with her positive emotional attachment with the car. He wanted the customer to feel the same about the car and the excitement of owning it as if it were the first day of ownership. So when the customer arrived to collect her car she was in for a surprise.

Shedding Tears of Joy

Instead of handing the car back to the customer at the bodyshop, a place that would remind her of the damage it had undergone, he arranged for her to meet with him at the dealership’s showroom.

In an area designated for the handover of new cars Peter had the car hidden beneath a white silk sheet. When the customer arrived to collect her car Peter explained to her that the car had been fully repaired and was now as good as new.

The negative experience she had, through no fault of her own, was clearly upsetting and had spoilt her new car experience. He wanted her to go away feeling as if it had never happened. He briefly explained the work they had carried out to assure her that all was well and then revealed from beneath the sheet her car, looking as good as new and in pristine showroom condition, fully presented in exactly the same condition as if it were being handed to her for the first time once again.

The customer was clearly impressed and shed a few tears of joy. She couldn’t believe that anyone would bother to go to this much trouble for her, something she never expected. A true example of a NiceTouch® in action. Needless to say, she was delighted and no doubt has spread positive word of mouth on several occasions since.

Well done Peter for your efforts for spotting the opportunity of how to turn a disaster into a great customer experience. For having the knowledge of how to deliver a WOW and for the attitude it takes to want to do so in the first place. It cost you nothing to implement other than some organisation and a little of your time, but it made such an impact. Another great example of AOK in action (attitude, observation, know how).

The Sytner Group Aim has paid off well.

In the 2017 Sunday Times’ Best Companies Awards, Sytner was named as No.1 Best Big Company to Work For in the UK – the eighth year in succession where they have achieved a Top 5 position in the competition.

If you need help building a culture that cares, one where employees proactively seek to WOW their customers contact Mark Gregory at [email protected]

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