Customer Experience Lessons From Two Auto Parts Stores- Part 2

oreillyIn part one of this post, I shared a poor experience at an auto parts store last week and ended saying I would tell you why I prefer to shop at the O’Reilly Auto Parts by my house.  If you hadn’t gathered by now, we have two cars, both of which are in excess of 150,000 miles and the overall reliability of our transportation is now being called into question.

On my Friday commute home I noticed the AC in my car was exclusively blowing hot air joining our other car with no AC.  No problem! I have recharged the AC on my own in the past.  I’m dangerous with car repairs but that is one thing I’ve managed to do without a mistake.  I went down the street to O’Reilly to buy a couple cans of something or other (I think it’s called coolant).  I don’t want to sugar coat this and make the other store look worse than they are but here are my general impressions:

  • Friendly Service- The customer service representative wasn’t over the top friendly but welcomed me and offered assistance.  The big difference occurred when someone called the store.  He answered the phone and said, “Do you mind holding as I’m with another customer at the moment.”  There were no gasps or snide comments.  He just went back to helping me.
  • Going Above and Beyond- I brought the adapter hose thingy for the cans of coolant that I had and saw I was missing a piece.  I found an extra adapter that I thought might be a piece I was missing.  I asked him if that would work for me.  His response was “I don’t know.  Let’s find out.”  He proceeded to pull out a pocket knife and test the product to see if it would work.  It didn’t end up working but what a great gesture.  How many stores would say “I don’t know.  If it doesn’t work just bring it back and we’ll refund you.”  He saved me a trip.
  • Learn About the Customer’s Situation- It wasn’t necessary on this trip but when I’ve purchased new lights for my vehicles in the past, they have walked out to my car to look for themselves and make sure they were selling me the right product.  They are ok with the fact that I have no clue if my Honda Civic has a v-tec engine or a 1.7 or 2.3 liter thingamajigger.  Who has time to memorize that stuff?
  • Building On Good Service- In my previous post I talked about how I walked into the auto parts store expecting bad service and hoping they’d surprise me.  Well, when I want into O’Reilly I expect good service because they have never shown me otherwise.  Shep Hyken (@hyken) defines amazing service as “consistently above average.”  I believe this is exactly what I have experienced.

Alright, so back to my cars.  I recharged the AC in my Toyota 4Runner and shortly after I began, the air all around me became cloudy and for the next thirty minutes I listened the sound of $25 hissing out of a leaky AC component.  Nothing like spending money to find out you need to spend more money.  In all, I went one for two as I have cool air in my Civic now and no hissing sounds.  Hey, with two cars over 150,000 miles I guess one for two isn’t bad.  I think I’ll probably have some good car buying customer service stories for you really soon.


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  • You described the type of service we all hope for when entering a store where we need a lot of product knowledge from an associate. Unfortunately, we all know this doesn’t happen often enough. My question is, how do you think other businesses can replicate this sort of service?

    My guess is it starts with hiring people who are enthusiastic DIY car people and then making it clear through training, policies, and supervision that they’re there to help customers like you get their own cars up and running again.

  • Jeremy Watkin

    I think you’re onto something here Jeff. Do you think it’s as simple as some auto parts stores simply being better at hiring this type of car person and training them well?

    I find I have interesting experiences at Home Improvement Warehouses as well. I bought a nice weedwacker last year after having a few duds and was fortunate enough to get service from a guy with TONS of experience with lawn and garden machines. That took a lot of preexisting knowledge along with some training to make that encounter a success. In that case it was Home Depot so I guess kudos to Home Depot to convincing a guy with that much knowledge and experience to work for them.

  • great information related to auto part online store.


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