The “Top 10” List You DON’T Want Your Business to Be On

Christian and I  have an episode today that is for everybody! Who’s ever been disappointed with customer service? There’s tons of examples of companies out there that put profits before customer service or they’re just too big and stupid to care about their customers because they have a monopoly in whatever industry that they are in.  

Our guest today has a solution and a new award he’s giving out that is the Oscars of Terrible Customer Service.  

Today we have Michael Levine who is an American writer and public relations expert. He is the author of books in public relations, including Guerrilla P.R, which is a must read for anybody interested in marketing.  His best selling book, Broken Windows, Broken Business was just released with new content and thoughts from the author himself.  Michael has represented 58 academy award winners, 34 Grammy award winners, and 43 New York times bestsellers, including Michael Jackson, Barbra Streisand, Joan Rivers, George Carlin, and many others. His work has included non-paid media counsel for former presidents, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton. Michael is often referred to as the Michael Jordan of entertainment PR. So let’s get ready, get out a pen and pencil to take some notes for this edition of Service Drive Revolution!  

When Michael came on and did our quarterly coaching meeting, our clients still talk about it till this very day.  The knowledge that Michael Levine shared with everybody has impacted us so much that I always look forward to talking with him because I learn something new every time and I relay this knowledge to Service Advisors and Managers around the world!  

I just want to start off by saying that Michael’s best selling book is a must read for everybody out there in any sort of business. Broken Windows, Broken Business is a great read on both sides and it is truly ICONIC! If you want to improve your mindset when working in the automotive industry as a Service Advisor, this is the book for you.  

There’s 25% new material in this book and it makes it much more relevant to certain aspects of contemporary life all over the world.  I actually have this book in Korean, which I had Michael sign, making it my prize prize possession. Michael wrote an article online called the 10 Worst Customer Service Corporations Slammed by Bestselling Author First Annual Broken Windows Award, in which Michael explains how he’s sick and tired of watching large corporations treat customers in a non-human way.  Michael thought that he could take the success of Broken Windows, Broken Business and turn it into a movement.  This list is all about spotlighting the shameful treatment of customers from 10 major corporations and how they should all be ashamed of themselves. If these corporations were honest and had any integrity in themselves, they would feel disgraced by being on this list and make a radical change in their customer service approach. 

I then asked Michael, “You think that in some situations it needs to go as far as the CEO needs to go?” and he said, 

“Yeah, absolutely. You’re right. If you’re presiding over an organization that has made a public declaration to treat customers as if they are non-human, then these companies you need to go”

I agree with a lot of this list, so we will be going down this list and reviewing Michael Levine’s thought processes behind his article. 

The first one on here is from the insurance industry…

Michael showed his disdain when he said this, 

“The whole group of them is just disgraceful and one that I particularly dislike is State Farm. They have this obnoxious slogan ‘Like a Good Neighbor, State Farm is There’. If they treat neighbors like this they wouldn’t have many neighbors, but it’s a whole industry. They don’t even make an effort to care for their customers and I would rather State Farm remove the slogan from their advertising, if they’re going to continue to treat customers as they do. They’re not alone in the insurance industry; almost all insurance companies treat customers like their pond scum and if they’re going to treat them that way, that’s fine. What’s not fine is saying “Like A Good Neighbor… Give me a break.” 

Christian came in with this accurate statement, 

“Right! They’re way more likely to be the neighbor that is going to borrow your lawn mower, wreck the blade, and bring it back with no gas. That’s the kind of neighbor State Farm is.”  

I was excited in asking him if he loves it when companies get so big that the marketing department doesn’t communicate with the rest of the corporation and to my interest Michael said this, 

“Almost invariably big equals stupid and complacent. When you build an organization to a certain size, it almost inevitably turns stupider, more complacent, and lazier. Now there are some examples that I believe should be reviewed very carefully who have not done that. Number one on the list, Amazon, I would encourage every single person listening to this to go on the web and look at the Amazon 14 Leadership Principles. They are so inspiring and it’s really a credit to Jeff Bezos, but also for an organization to look at those leadership principles, read them, print them out, and keep them around because they’re pretty good.  Big is not a recipe for great and very often it is the biggest recipe for making a lot of money. But they really should be ashamed..”  

The second one On the list is Dish Network…

Michael quickly came in with this statement, 

“ Have you ever called Dish Network? Try it sometime. You’ll want to commit suicide the way they treat people on the phone with their push one, to push three, to push five, and push two that then forwards you over to ‘Your call is very important to us. Please hold for the next 30 minutes.” 

The third corporation 0n the list is Equifax…

I wanted some clarity on his thoughts so I asked Michael, “What about Equifax made them win the broken business award?”  Michael enlightened me by saying, 

“These reporting credit reporting services treat customers as if the customers are lucky to be graced by Equifax. I have a contention. Most businesses in America today are not producing properly because they come at questions, all questions, through the prism of, “What is good for the owner and what is good for the staff.” So most businesses in America are faced with hundreds of questions per day, and almost all of them answer each of the questions predicated on, “Is it good for the owner? Is it good for the staff?” Mr. Bezos says, “I don’t give a rats a**, so it’s good for the owner of the staff. I care. What’s good for the customer.” If you treat the customer as the boss, as the divine inspiration for the business. Listen to me, I said, “Divine inspiration.” How would you treat something divine with great care? Great reverence, wouldn’t you? If you treat the customer as the all important divine inspiration… Don’t worry about the owner, don’t worry about the staff that’ll work out, just worship, worship, worship the customer.” 

His statement gave me an epiphany because it opened my eyes to one thing that always tells me when a Dealership’s culture is broken, underperforming, or losing money, and that’s when the owner of the Dealership says to me, “If you take care of the people, they’ll take care of the customers, if you take care of the Service Advisors, they’ll take care of the customers.” Never have I seen that have a positive outcome on the customers.

It’s this idea that you can’t like the Service Advisors that you work with and are not in conflict with the customer, having a great outcome. But if the customer is the focus you will attract Advisors and Technicians that have the same passion for customers that you do and then you will in turn like them. But if every Advisor and Technician are sitting in a room trying to be liked, the customer becomes irrelevant and nobody pays attention to the customer. You can still have both, you just have to have a common goal and have a common belief system and you can’t always program that into people. Oftentimes, you need to go recruit new Service Advisors or Technicians that share that passion for the customers.  

Michael quickly agreed with me, however, he told me that I needed to emphasize my thoughts a bit differently.  He explained that, 

“The customer should not be the focus… The customer should be the burning maniacal rage of focus, total and complete, not partial.  Steve Jobs said something brilliant when he was still alive. He said many things that were brilliant, however, I think this is one worth repeating in terms of employees and team members. Steve said, “A’s want to play with A’s and B’s want to play with C’s because it makes them feel like A’s”  You’re better off recruiting people who share a burning maniacal rage to achieve best practices. World-class constant ceaseless improvement.”

Now, then the next broken windows award goes to Facebook.

What Michael stated was entertaining because his points are extremely valid, 

“Bad Customer Service?  How about no customer service? Have you ever spoken to a live human at Facebook? Exactly. It’s impossible. You have better luck landing a Tello interview with Bigfoot. It’s all true, facts are stubborn things. ”

Moreover, the fifth award goes to McDonalds.

Bringing up this corporation gave Michael this look in his eyes that sparked this passionate conversation and he said, 

“ If Ray Kroc somehow were resurrected today and came back and walked into an average McDonald’s right. I think he would die a second time. It’s painful to think that McDonald’s, which was a middle-class fast food establishment, has fallen into what looks to me like a commissary at a car wash in a really bad neighborhood. It’s pathetic… When Ray Kroc had franchisees, not only did he insist that the franchisees keep the store spotless, he insisted they keep the area one block from the store spotless. So the franchisee had to walk a block each way and keep that spotless.”  

These expectations that Ray Kroc ensured his franchisees to keep up with is the definition of a perfect leader.  This consideration and care for customers is what we are lacking in today’s generation.  Michael further explains these reasons in our next award… 

The next award goes to our winner Monsanto. 

In his original article he talks about how, “Monsanto is responsible for making and selling deadly chemical products including DDT, PCBs, Agent Orange, and Roundup, not to mention genetically modified organism seeds—GMOs. What’s the ultimate in bad customer service? How about actually killing your customers? That’s one way of dealing with consumer complaints.”

When I presented Monsanto as the winner of our next award he gave us this passionate response saying, 

“We have another company that does not walk its talk in terms of best practices. The divine mission of a business is to provide outstanding customer service and outstanding products that meet their best practices.”

The seventh award goes to Spectrum. 

Let me tell you what Michael thinks about Spectrum and why he gave the Broken Windows award to this large corporation, he simply said, 

“Oh, again, it’s simple. Pull out a cell phone and try calling them. Just try right now. You’ll see… And their TV commercials are so antithetical to the real visceral probable experience that customers have. I’m a spectrum customer, unfortunately, I mean, if you have a problem, good luck.  I’ve talked to spectrum employees and I’ve said to them very politely, “Sir, ma’am aren’t you embarrassed? Have you ever called Spectrum yourself?” And they said, “Yeah, we agree. It’s horrible. It’s a disgrace. It’s a crackup.”

The next company Michael has on the list are United Airlines.

Michael was so disappointed in Airline Companies that he just said this simple line, 

“That airline companies are too easy a target…”  

In his original article you can find HERE, Michael said, 

“United is clearly your ideal airline – if your standards are lower than a limbo bar.”

The following award goes to Wells Fargo.

Let me start off by telling you that Wells’ Fargo slogan is ‘Life’s Better When We’re Connected’.  Michael took the Liberty of helping them with their slogan and their marketing and recently he rewrote that for them with, “Your life will be better when you’re in prison.”

Michael chuckled and gave me some insight on his thoughts telling me,

“Wells Fargo has been guilty of criminal behaviors.  They are the quintessential example of get big, gets stupid, and get complacent. You know, it’s just pathetic. I’ve had it. And I want customers to start rebelling against this and not taking it anymore.”

“Your life will be better when you’re in prison.”

Michael and I started talking about a company’s first impression when a customer enters a dealership, specifically a BMW dealership in an affluent community like Santa Monica, California.  

Michael builds upon this topic by telling us his personal experience at the BMW dealership,

“If you go to Santa Monica BMW today and you’re a customer that walks in and you’re waiting for your car. You go to the little area in which they have a coffee refreshment area for the customer. To find out that they don’t have any tea and barely any coffee. That isn’t consistent, in my opinion, with a luxury product, I’m not angry with them. I’m just saying, if you own a BMW dealership in an affluent community of Santa Monica, California, how you treat little things like the condom encounter or the refreshment area is very important. And another trend that businesses are making a mistake around is trying to automate everything. They’re trying to assume that, uh, for the ease of their life, they can automate everything and people don’t want to talk to more machines. They want to talk to human beings with a smile.”

Small details like these instances from Service Advisors really impact the customer’s perception of the business, which really dials down to the management of the company itself, stemming from the corporate level.  Michael Levine then went into detail about management,

“If you have an excellent manager, you’ll have an excellent store run by an excellent manager who shows up on nights and weekends. That’s just how it is. There’s no shortcut to these things, which of course is why so many businesses choose not to avail themselves. There’s no shortcut, but you can win big if you’re willing to work tirelessly and make the customer number one!”

To sum this up, 

Michael is simply trying to tell corporations in America, if history has not been kind to companies who treat customers like scum, which ,you’re free to do it if you want. However, history hasn’t been kind to companies who treat customers like non-humans and most companies do it, particularly large corporations.  We then talked about how 

organizations function exceedingly well because of hiring decisions of upper management.  We finish off by talking about the correlation between who you staff and your key management positions, the attitude that they have and the capacity that they have in an organization functioning well.  All the things we’ve talked about today are meant to help you navigate your way to success as a Service Advisor, Manager, or even Technician, inside the Automotive Industry.  

Don’t forget to subscribe and call us at (833) 3-ASK-SDR if you have a question. 

For special deals on our books and training, head over to OFFERS.CHRISCOLLINSINC.COM and I’ll see you next time on Service Drive Revolution!

Podcast

Christian and I  have an episode today that is for everybody! Who’s ever been disappointed with customer service? There’s tons of examples of companies out there that put profits before customer service or they’re just too big and stupid to care about their customers because they have a monopoly in whatever industry that they are in.

Call us at (833) 3-ASK-SDR if you have a question. 

For special deals on our books and training, head over to OFFERS.CHRISCOLLINSINC.COM and I’ll see you next time on Service Drive Revolution!

 

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