I had seen a lot of advertisements for tires through the OEM dealer, including banner ads online and TV advertising, so I figured I’d give them a shot. Here’s what happened when I called them up:
Problem 1: I kept getting pushed back and forth between parts and service. I started in service, but since I wanted wheels to go with the tires, they pushed me over to Parts. When I explained to the parts guy what I wanted, he was able to quote me a price on the four wheels I would need. Then I got pushed back to service for a quote on the tires and mounting.
Problem 2: The dealer actually didn’t have tires that met my needs. In fact, the dealer was unable to locate a wheel and winter tire package for the vehicle through the OEM, and also unable to put together a custom package.
Problem 3: The dealer explicitly told me to go to the independent aftermarket to meet my needs.
So, following the parts counterman’s advice, I called up Discount Tire.
Differentiator 2: The clerk was able to look up wheel and tire packages that fit my vehicle, and offered a number of options for both the wheel and tire.
Differentiator 3: The clerk was able to quote an out-the-door price, once I told him what I wanted. He let me know that the tires were in stock at a facing warehouse and would be arriving in three days.
So what are some of the things that the dealer and OEM should do to replicate the aftermarket tire experience?
- Availability. In this case, either the tire package didn’t exist, or the dealer did not know how to find and order it. When I went on the OEM website, I found that they did not offer a winter tire for this car, despite the fact that it came from the factory with summer-only performance tires. In contrast, Discount Tire was able to provide pricing and lead-time for several different options.
- Single point of contact who can handle the entire order. The service advisor should be able to look up parts prices or package prices and provide a quote to the customer. Bouncing between parts and service does not make for a good customer experience.
- Phone handling skills. Greeting the customer, asking what you can do to help and introducing yourself by name makes the customer feel valued.