To offer the best customer experience possible, AutoApp looks to the Ritz Carlton’s iconic Gold Standards for inspiration.
By Sheldon Trollope, AutoApp Co-founder
When we set out to create AutoApp over dinners in the office and ideas sketched on pizza boxes, the start-up’s founders, Joel Tam, Alvin Tan and I had to make a fundamental decision — What defines AutoApp?
Answering this was crucial because it would set us on a trajectory as the app began to take shape. The options for AutoApp were for it to be, a product, a service, or an experience.
Some might see AutoApp merely as a product; a smartphone app where customers can get their cars serviced or repaired without having leave their homes, offices or even taking time off from their busy schedules. While they wouldn’t be wrong with this assumption, this is actually just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
At the heart of AutoApp, is our desire to revolutionise the automotive aftersales industry. While the way cars are bought and sold have progressed by light years through digitalisation, the aftersales segment is very much mired as a traditional, brick-and-mortar business model.
We identified pain points from both aftersales service providers as well as car owners. We often came across a sentiment of distrust, especially with independent workshops caused by a few bad apples in the past.
So, to change this mindset, nothing less than the best customer experience was imperative. The convenience of a first and last-mile solution alone is not enough. In fact, convenience can be a double-edged sword where it could also imply a compromise in quality or service standards. The saying, “if you want something done right, do it yourself” is one such example.
To address this concern, we had to go above and beyond to prove that there was no trade-off in quality. After all, AutoApp is not just a more convenient way to service and repair your car, it is the best way to do it that also happens to be more convenient.
To offer levels of service hitherto unseen in the aftersales segment, we had to look outside the industry for inspiration. To this end, there’s probably no higher standard of customer service than at the Ritz Carlton. The backbone of this legendary customer service is a set of principles that the luxury hotel chain calls Gold Standards.
Encompassing the values and philosophy by which they operate, Gold Standards is a simple yet effective set of guidelines that, when applied, can elevate the customer experience to new levels. The Ritz Carlton makes no secret of this and in fact, proudly lists this on their webpage.
Although I could go on for hours about how Gold Standards are applied to the AutoApp use case, these are some of the more pertinent points that will serve as an example of the approach we take to customer service.
The Credo of the Ritz-Carlton Gold Standards sets the perfect tone of what customer service should really be about: “genuine care and comfort of our guests is our highest mission”. The words ‘genuine care’ is the biggest takeaway here. In this context, AutoApp always acts in the customer’s best interest. Repairs or parts replacement that affects safety are always given top priority and advised accordingly, for example.
The Three Steps of Service are also another highlight that is embraced by AutoApp. A warm and sincere greeting. Using the guest’s (customer’s) name. Anticipating and fulfilling their needs. Lastly, “fond farewell. Give a warm goodbye and use the guest’s name”.
At no point does Gold Standards encourage one to be spectacular or impressive for the sake of it. Rather, the overarching theme is about building relationships, putting the guests’ wellbeing ahead of everything else and respecting each other. “We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen,” goes the Ritz-Carlton motto.
There may be more efficient and easier ways to send our customers’ car to the workshops or service centres, but we believe in investing in relationships which in turn earns trust.
We’re here for the long game.