Honda car service experience shows how CRM and CEM can coexist nicely


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Recently a brochure showed up in the mail reminding me that my Honda Civic needed 60K service. Along with fixing a few other things that I’d been putting off.

Here’s what happened with my total service experience, including my grade on each moment of truth. CRM and CEM can indeed work together!

1. Asked for recommendation – B

Despite the good deal offered in the brochure, I decided to book my service appointment at another dealer — one that my wife had used in the past and really liked — Honda of Serramonte in Colma, California (near San Francisco).

I didn’t check other sources because I know how much my wife values great service. If she was happy, I will be too. But if I had checked Yelp, I might have made a different decision. The average rating was just “ok” with plenty of complaints about new car buying and service.

Fortunately for this Honda dealer, all it took was one happy customer to get me to try them. I’ll give them a B because their reviews are so inconsistent.

2. Booked appointment online – D

This was the worst part of otherwise excellent experience. I went to Service Specials and then click on the appointment link. After a long wait a CRM app powered by Xtime opened up.

I eventually booked an appointment, but found the process really confusing and slow. And the price estimate was so low I knew it wasn’t right. Having owned a few cars I know what routine service and repairs costs, so I just ignored the estimate. But others who didn’t read the fine print would show up and get a nasty surprise.

Also, it’s not clear to me that I got any kind of a “special” price, nor that booking online saved any time later when I showed up.

3. Consulted with service consultant – B

The drop off went fine, but as mentioned it didn’t seem to matter that I had booked online. My rep still asked me for basic contact info even though I can provided it online. Later he said the web site was integrated with their internal system, but I’m not so sure that’s true.

Anyway, the experience with my “Service Consultant” was great. He used an iPad to capture what I needed done, and said he really like the tool. A big improvement over capturing info on paper form, then keying it in later.

4. Waited in the lobby – A

While waiting for my estimate, I waited in a very nice lobby area, had a free cup of coffee and donut, and watched the news on a big screen TV. Nice.

5. Got my estimate, booked the order – B

My rep met me and reviewed service and repair options. Nice experience using the iPad. Eventually he “upsold” me on a package of service items with some freebees thrown in. Good CRM and CX in action here.

6. Discuss major repair options by phone- B

A few hours later I got a call about one of my repair items. Turns out I needed a fairly expensive fix to my rear suspension, which I agreed to. He tried to convince me to fix a couple of other things, but they weren’t critical so I didn’t bite.

7. Picked up car – A

The car was ready on schedule, cleaned and ready to go. I paid, ate another donut and was on my way.

8. Oops, one thing I forgot – A

A couple of days later, I realized I had forgotten about getting a spare key. Called in to find the key cost $60 and the “programming” another $140. Ouch.

I wasn’t thrilled to pay $200 to get a spare key. But when I dropped off the car, my Service Consultant recognized me, greeted me by name (no CRM system required) and discounted the programming charge 50%.

The personal touch plus the discount was truly delightful.

9. Follow-up survey – A

I also received via email a follow-up survey a day after my first visit. Just three questions and a place to write in comments. Perfect.

10. Writing this post – ?

I won’t give myself a grade on this post, but if you think about it, it really is the last step in this customer experience. Instead of just planning what you’ll do for your customer, think about how they are going to spread the word after the journey is complete. A post on Twitter? Review on Yelp?

Overall, I give Honda of Serramonte a B+ on the total experience. The web experience was the main weak point. But the rest of the CX was done very nicely, coordinated by my service consultant and supported with some good tools.

Oh, and the car was also serviced and repaired correctly. Unfortunately, that is something you can’t take for granted.


  1. Bob – When people read your article they should recognize that it breaks down the main "touch points” that are experienced at your auto dealership. This type of thinking (and rating system) can be applied to virtually any business. That you had problems with the online part of the experience confirms an important point that all companies with an online presence must consider: The online experience must be a reflection of the people-to-people experience. Otherwise, it potentially erodes the brand.

  2. I am from Delhi. I have been using a Honda Activa Insured with ICICI Lombard. I had purchased this in January 2012. And its good experience to have it. It has both options like Kick start & Self start. 2 Months ago, I met with an accident, after which my scooter got damaged badly and turned into a total scrap. I thought to claim for insurance from ICICI. I was thinking it would be an easy task to avail the claim but I was totally wrong because their commitments pushed me to file a complaint against them at Because when I claimed for my Insurance amount they were just committing me wrong every time. When I called to Bank Customer Care they also made me wrong commitment. One of the person was saying that the cheque is dispatched at your residence and one of them was saying that the cash has been transferred to your account but everything was worthless. I was just fed up with their commitment. So I had to go to consumer court. Let's hope for some help from their side soon.

  3. Bob,

    I found your post through a link on Twitter that a friend posted there. For people who are new to your postings, you should not immediately jump to abbreviations, such as CRM, CEM, or CX. If you have explained these in previous posts, not every reader will have read them. Next time, please give the full meaning before jumping to abbreviations.

  4. I agree with Kevin, but thank you for correcting yourself Bob. Otherwise, I would definitely say that recommendations and reviews can play a very significant role in decision making. However, where people are ‘purchasing’ reviews in an attempt to boost their brand, I can’t really say how reliable they are….

    Comment on behalf of BMC


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