Crash course in customer service

How a couple of businesses gained the author’s business

When I heard the loud crash outside my home, I knew it couldn’t be good. The sound of crunching metal against the backdrop of an otherwise quiet Monday afternoon brought my peaceful vacation day to a halt and sent me rushing outside to see what had happened.

Parked on the street, my little red truck, my wheels for the last 12 years, had been hit by a driver who allegedly was under the influence. The damage was significant, and I held back tears as I realized my truck was beyond repair.

I groaned at the thought of wading through police reports, insurance claims and car dealership visits. But the process has been remarkably pleasant, marked by the great customer service that I’ve experienced from businesses here in our local community.

The first highlight was the response from Geico, which someone I know once classified as a “discount online” company. The rates may be discounted, but the care certainly didn’t feel that way. Within four days, they’d taken my initial report, had my truck towed, sent a claims adjuster out and issued me a check. I did buy my policy online, but someone in a local office kept me up-to-date on the process, checking in at least once a day about the progress of my claim. He even snapped one last photo of me and my truck.

Without any wheels, I started the arduous task of car shopping, deciding to buy new. I stopped at a few local dealerships, but one in particular got me to leave the lot in a new car. Their sales team was sharp, friendly and relaxed. Rather than a sales pitch, we had a conversation and they respected that such a big financial decision shouldn’t be rushed.

One of my priorities was to buy from a dealership within the city of Chico to keep my sales tax dollars local, though I knew I couldn’t pass up a great deal if I saw it somewhere else. I did see a lower price on the car I had in mind, and without much push, Chuck Patterson agreed to match it. I was still having some doubts, so I called a competitor in a nearby town to see if I could get the same deal. No go. They implied that I was lying about the price and made it clear that they did not want my business.

Needless to say, I came back to Chico, not simply because of the price, but because of the service. The dealership truly earned my business and reminded me that to gain customers, a business must put service at its core. The sales tax revenue stayed here in Chico, thanks to the Chico dealership’s strong customer service.

I happily drove my new car home last week, and the first thing I did was insure it with my same online insurance company. Losing my truck was unfortunate, but I’ve gained confidence that I’m doing business with some great Chico companies that put service first.