Friday, February 11, 2005

How talent made me lease a car...

While thinking about evidence that the tide is turning in favour of talent, I realized that I actually decided to lease my next car not because of the car's quality. Not even because there is a host of services attached to the leasing agreement (maintenance, express service, replacement car, insurance, taxes...). Oh yes, all these are handy. But today, I consider them as pre requisites. The automobile industry is mature enough for me as a consumer not to want to be bothered with manufacturers:
- that fail to consistently deliver quality or
- who do not seem to care much about product design or
- who do not care about services or
- whose personnel is not interested in following-up on my request for quotation
- ...

In fact, I expect the auto makers to deliver reliability, convenience, an acceptable price, services... and all the other things that are "normal" today. So what made a difference in favour of the brand I chose? I guess the answer is "the experience". What is the experience?

Seen with my naive eyes of buyer / decision-maker, the experience includes the following elements:
- satisfaction of the expectation to find all the "normal" elements in the value proposition
- feeling deep inside that the sales person was able, willing and determined to actually listen to and understand my needs as though they were his needs. Evidence of this was the fact that he took the initiative of producing an additional leasing proposal that made more sense for me even though his employer would make slightly less money on it than on the offer we had initially discussed
- flow in the interaction: good feeling during the test drive, both because the car meets my requirements and because the sales guy was sitting next to me, showing genuine interest about the way I felt driving the car and suggesting available functionality to test
- effectiveness: immediate production of the leasing offers using dedicated IT tools (here goes the POSITIVE impact of infotech again!)
- excellent follow-up on my calls to the sales person for additonal information while I was assessing my options
- excellent welcoming by the people who were answering the phone each and every time I called
- last, but not least: a smiling nod from one of the mecanics guys whose eyes caught my distracted stare while I was waiting for the sales person to finish configuring the car on his laptop... When even the "back-office" cares about the customer, I feel good about the way the business as a whole performs with customers.

Conclusion: what made me chose the car was the experience imprinted on my mind and in my heart like an impresionist painting on canvas, with brush strokes being all the moments of "harmony" in the interactions with the people of the car dealership... Yet another indication that it is talent that matters and that the tide is turning.

"people make the world go round (or not)"

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