The slickest part of the wizard was the capability to pick a service and schedule a date. Depending upon what service you picked, the calendar changed. This wasn’t any old calendar. This was dynamic. Clearly, they had predefined the capability of handling some number of services per day. It was likely also interactive depending upon what was already scheduled for that day. This all makes wonderful sense but I had not seen this before.
I went ahead and scheduled the service for Monday AM planning to drop the car off Sunday night. Saturday, we received an email reminding us of the service scheduled for the car. Sunday, Allison and I drive over to their location, pull into the lot following the “Service” sign and find lanes specially marked for night drop off. There were already some cars in the lanes so we found a spot. The box on the wall had a pen and several forms. We filled out one and put the keys in the envelop through the clearly marked “key drop” slot. This group has figured out service and seems to have thought of everything. The drive home continued the conversation on how well they have planned for service; web site wizard, email reminders, lanes for drop off, etc. Well done!
I think the lean folks will like the level loading the dynamic calendar facilitates (and all the other ways the process provided value to the customer). This strategy levels the load by pushing around demand a bit (rather than just accommodating whatever demand exists – real world conditions can make this the correct strategy). For example, if special machines are needed for certain jobs and the long term demand supports one of each such machine and if you can adjust the flow to level out the demand doing so is a good strategy. As this example shows, customers have flexibility in scheduling preventative maintenance; therefore take advantage of that in your system design.
Good customer service stories are so nice to read. By the way I found this post while trying to find some good customer service credit card companies – that is a very difficult task. I have dropped Discover Card after bad service from them and am looking for a replacement. I would think with the huge profits in credit cards at least one company would decide providing good customer service would be a good strategy (even if I can’t find evidence of that).