The Car Washing Bay Story

car washing bay

My childhood friend Dr. Phil called me one morning excitedly, saying, “I have a great Customer Experience story for your blog, this is a very simple story about a car washing bay, but it was a great experience for me”.

I am Ahimaa (pronounced a: hi: maa), a Customer Experience Management Consultant and a sucker for great Customer Experience stories.

Dr. Phil had been on sabbatical in Addis Ababa for a while, he returned home last quarter of 2022. He needed to give his car some needed tender loving care, being a little out of touch, he had been scouting for a good car washing bay. Though there were several in his neighborhood, he avoided them because they were the usual culprits that did not meet his standard. 

The below-standard culprits are the car washing bays where you would rather sit in your car whilst it is washed due to the obvious. They are usually situated in dusty areas with muddy and littered premises due to a lack of proper drainage system. It is always difficult to tell who is in charge as the atmosphere appears unruly, sometimes with loud music and questionable-looking attendants. Safety becomes a concern when you decide not to sit in the car, it becomes an arduous job of removing all valuables from the car and watching every movement of the attendant with eagle’s eyes.  

In cases where your car must be moved, these attendants will usually demand (yes demand with no decorum) for your car keys to move your car, and when you opt to do it yourself, they get upset (Imagine their impudence!!!). Processes are usually without structure or form, after the service you are likely to haggle over the cost as price list is always unavailable. In cases where there is a price list, the attendant expects a certain amount of gratuity for mediocre service. If you are Jonny Just Come (JJC) like Dr. Phil, you are likely to pay more than necessary as you wouldn’t even know the starting price to negotiate.  

Eventually, Dr. Phil found the perfect car washing bay that met his standard; proximity to his workplace was great, it had easy access from the main road and the atmosphere was light and hearty. The attendants were courteous and enthusiastic, and the processes were hassle-free; You know exactly where to go and what to do as soon as you enter. Price list was clearly visible at the entrance and the waiting area. They had a great waiting area, shaded from the sun and devoid of dust and flies. Essentially, they were everything that the below-standard culprits are not.

His first experience was excellent; The service surpassed his standard and he received a car duster as a freebie after the service. This was during the festive period in December; thus, he assumed it was a Yuletide giveaway. The second time Dr. Phil visited the washing bay was in February 2023. As he sat waiting for his car to be worked on, he was offered fresh coconut, he assumed it was for sale, so he declined, but to his amazement, he was told that it was being served by the washing bay to all waiting customers. It was a much-needed refreshment as it was a hot and humid afternoon.

This amazing car washing bay experience was a first for Dr. Phil. As a researcher his inquiry abilities were instantly roused. He wanted to understand the manager’s philosophy in relation to service delivery. He asked to speak to the manager, who incidentally was the owner of the establishment and was available supervising the attendants. 

Gideon Opoku, the car washing bay owner, is a Senior High School leaver with no formal training in business strategy or customer service/experience management.  However, he is an ardent believer that customers give value, therefore, the need to treat them well. He articulated to Dr. Phil that his concept of service delivery yields repeat business and new customers; mostly recommended by existing customers. Dr. Phil further learned that the car duster he received in December 2022 was a freebie that is given to every new customer irrespective of the occasion.

Gideon’s car washing bay is situated within an enclave consisting of significant institutions such as a university, two big hospitals, a utility company, and other similar institutions. Evidently, Gideon understands the target market, and knowing his potential customers enables him to anticipate their needs and curate moments of magic. 

What a wow!!! (a Ghanaian slang to depict amazement). 

This is indeed a simple story but a moment of magic hit for Dr. Phil. 

REFLECTIONS – Customer Experience Management (CXM) as a Business Transformation Tool

“At the moment of truth, there are either reasons or results” Chuck Yeager.

  • When your customers interact with your products or service, are they experiencing RESULTS in relation to the positive performance of the service or product, or are you giving them REASONS as to why the product or service did not perform as expected?
  • Moments of truth are the critical moment when your customer interacts with your business or brand. These moments are significant to how their perception of your brand or business is formed.
  • Are your moments of truth experiences moments of magic or moments of misery?
  • Moments of magic are essential in creating extraordinary experiences for your customers that can transform them from one-time buyers to repeat customers and further convert them into advocates. Creating magical moments for customers can be in the form of personalization or creating emotional connections these are achieved by knowing your customers and anticipating their needs
  • Moments of misery are the moment of truth misses; these must be properly managed by institutionalizing a Service Recovery Strategy to swiftly manage service failures. Effectively recovering service failures has the potential of transforming negative experiences into positive experiences.