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I often write about customer experiences gone wrong – because it’s so easy and happens so often – but when things go right, I like to share the stories and give kudos, as well (like I did in a recent post about a furniture shopping experience).

Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen very often. We need to fix that, no?

Here’s my story.

I was in a little fender bender two weeks ago. I was totally incidental to the main incident, but my car was damaged, nonetheless. (My kids and I were OK.) I’ll spare you the details of the accident because it was pretty ridiculous.

I’ve been a member of AAA for the last 26 years, and they provide my auto insurance. I pay for membership every year, and I rarely, if ever (knock on wood), need their roadside or insurance services. Thank goodness. But I must say that it’s nice to know they are there for me when I do need them. Like they were two weeks ago.

The accident happened late on a Saturday night, as my boys and I left an Anaheim Ducks hockey game. The police called an Auto Club towing service, and after waiting more than an hour for the tow truck driver to arrive, he finally showed up. Unfortunately, he didn’t have room for the three of us in his cab, so he called for another truck and told us the next driver would arrive in 10 minutes. Ten minutes turned into an hour, and we were exhausted. This is where I’d normally start to write about how bad the experience continued to be, but things took a drastic change for the good here, believe it or not.

The second driver, Tomas, was like an angel sent to help us! He was kind, friendly, and service-oriented. On the drive to my dealership to drop off the car, Tomas spoke about how he didn’t care what level of AAA membership I had or anyone had; he treated everyone the same. He believed in providing the best service for his customers (his words); he assured me that he’d drop off the car wherever I needed it dropped and would take us home quickly after that. I sat in the dark in the front seat with a smile on my face. It was a stressful night, and he just made me relax for the first time since the accident.

I’ve written about the partner experience a few times in the past, but this is a great example of how taking great care when selecting (and keeping) your partners can make all the difference in the customer experience.

Your partners are as much a part of the customer experience as your own own employees are. Choose your partners wisely.

The next morning, Sunday, I called AAA to file my claim. The agent on the phone was so charming and delightful. Her first concern was to make sure the kids and I were OK. She took all of the information about the accident and asked a lot of questions, but she made me feel at ease and assured me that she would take care of everything for me. Ironically, her computer wasn’t working (why does that always happen? perhaps for another blog post…), and she ended up taking down all my information on paper. She promised she’d call me once the computer was back up.

She called, but I wasn’t available, but to my surprise, she left me a very detailed voicemail with all the information I would need to get through the next 24 hours, including:

  • Name and phone number of the agent taking my case
  • Claim number
  • Rental car information

Yes! She even reserved a car with Enterprise for me. Could it really be that easy?!

On Monday morning, a friend took me to pick up the car, and when I returned home, my assigned agent called me. He confirmed all the details, explained what was going to happen from here on out, and assured me he’d send me a check to cover the towing and a check for a new booster seat (legally, you have to replace a car seat that’s been in an accident), both of which made me very happy.

The agent took great care of me. We communicated a few times by email, and his emails were always friendly, professional, and in an “in your service” type of tone. I loved it. An interesting thing that I noted in his emails was his manager‘s name and phone number. When I called him and got his voicemail, I noticed that his outgoing message stated that if I wanted to provide feedback to his manager or if his service was not to my expectations, I could contact his manager; he provided her name and phone number there, as well.

A short while later, I got a call from the claims adjuster to let me know that he’d be going to see the car. After he was finished reviewing the damage, he called to let me know what the dealership would do and how AAA would take care of things. Two days later, I received a copy of the estimate for the damages, just as we’d discussed on the phone.

Sure enough, they took care of everything. The car was ready in a couple days, the checks arrived a week later, and I was so surprised at how easy and pain-free they made the whole situation.

A few days later, I received a handwritten thank you note from the agent: “Thank you for your continued membership with the Auto Club. It was a pleasure to assist you.” Nice touch.

You can only imagine my delight about this entire experience. A couple of takeaways for you:

1. Your partners are a critical touchpoint in your customer journey. Choose them wisely.
2. Especially during stressful times, agents should express empathy and extreme patience. 
3. Take the time to explain a detailed process, if there is one.
4. Be real. Be helpful. Genuinely want to help your customers.
5. Keep your promises.
6. Communicate frequently. 
7. Be responsive.
8. Provide all the details about what the customer can expect.
9. Interact with customers as if you are “in their service.” Because you are.
10. Always thank your customers for their business. 
Take care of your customers, and they will take care of you.