I recently had a very bad customer experience with a company I shall name as ‘Indirect-Leisure’. Having searched and appeared to have found what I was after on their website, I went to the local store, only to find they had no stock and, it seemed, no staff to serve me. When I did finally track someone down, they just looked at me blankly, stating: “It’s not my department”. Returning home, I ordered the items from their website, though I had to pay to have them delivered to the store I had just been to. Oh well, my daughters were insistent, so I put in the order and paid.


Two days later I receive an email stating they have “stock issues” and that my order had been cancelled. There was nothing about new stock nor a refund. Checking the website for ways to request a refund only yielded an online form to complete and a vague time frame of when I may expect a response, “usually within 14 days, yet during busy times this may be longer”. I then scoured the internet for a contact number, finding one, only for my elation to go from a satisfied high to a disgruntled low as the automated system told me that they were “experiencing a busy period” and that I should “call back later”. Then the phone went dead. Four weeks later and I still have not received my refund, though I sourced the product through eBay for less, and they arrived within a few days.


The point of my above rant? I shall never use that store again, ever. The posts I put on social media won’t dent their profit margins, or the store’s footfall, they are just too big. However, for a small company owner such as an ADI, one single bad customer experience can have a devastating effect. My driving school only covers a 10-mile radius. Factor in sharing this mall area with seventeen other local ADIs, and it’s easy to understand the importance of ensuring that anyone who contacts me, whether they end up having lessons or not, gets the best response from me as is possible.


While there has been a lot of talk of ‘safeguarding of pupils’ lately, and it no small issue, just as safeguarding yourself and your driving schools’ reputation with excellent customer service is. After all, the first rule of business is to protect your investment. We invest our time, money and efforts in building our up our business as ADIs, and our reputation with it. Yet all this can be torn down by just a single disgruntled, student, parent, the driver we ‘waved at’ after they cut us up. What’s more, and the greater our success, so the likelihood of being targeted increases, along with the fragility of our business, especially in these days of unchecked social media and our reliance on referrals.