The Opposite Extreme

November 24th, 2009

In my last blog post, which recounted the apparent inability of an alleged communications guru to walk the talk of courteous customer service, I promised an example of the other extreme. Here ‘tis.

Never mind VW gti w12 2007_thumbwhy, but several weeks ago I wanted a copy of my VW Roadside Assistance plan, and it seemed easiest to ask for an electronic copy.

I contacted VW using a form on their customer portal.

This, friends, is what I found in my Inbox:


From: VWoA Customer CARE []
Sent: Friday, July 10, 2009 1:36 PM
Subject: 80910XXXX Arnold 7/10/09 JB

Dear Ms. Arnold:

Thank you for your follow up e-mail regarding your Rabbit.  I am grateful to have you as a member of the Volkswagen family.  I understand you are inquiring if there is an e-mail address where Roadside Assistance can be contacted to obtain an electronic copy of your Roadside Assistance plan.  I apologize for any frustration this concern has caused, and I appreciate the opportunity to respond.

Volkswagen strives to assist our customers whenever possible.  I regret there is no e-mail address for Roadside Assistance; they can be reached over the phone at (800) 411-6688. Roadside Assistance helps people over the phone that call in with vehicle concerns, and it is possible they may not have something they can send to you.  Please be aware you were provided a Roadside Assistance booklet when you purchased your car.  I realize you are seeking an electronic copy however as a temporary solution I have located a Roadside Assistance booklet here in the Customer CARE Center that I will mail to you.  You can expect to receive it in 7 to 10 business days.

As a member of the Volkswagen family, your questions are important to us.  Again, thank you for your e-mail.  If I may be of future assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact me again by e-mail at or through our Customer CARE Center at (800) 822-8987.  If I am not available, one of my colleagues will be able to assist you.


Ms. [Mary Jones]


Customer CARE Advocate


Holy crow. Talk about polite. Talk about a serious corporate culture of customer service.

I can just picture the folks in the conference room mapping the strategy to imbue all of VW with this service culture; the ace corporate communications writer crafting customer letter samples and templates; mandatory Customer CARE Advocate training on personalizing those samples and templates; and, if VW is really clever, an internal social media portal for Customer CARE Advocates to share best practices in writing customer letters.

No way was Ms. [Mary Jones] acting alone. This was not an isolated incident. They never are. Outstanding customer service happens when leadership works hard at it. Same as anything good that happens in CorporateVille. Like making sure employees have the information they need to do their jobs, when and how they need it.

What do customer service and internal communications have in common? They’re often underestimated and undervalued, and leaders who don’t recognize their importance are dragging down company performance and leaving money on the table.

VW has never given me any reason to feel anything less than terrific about driving one of their cars. Can you say your employees feel the same about working for you?

    • Rosie Sennett said:
    • Is this the difference between a tried and true corporate structure with checks and balance, management care and a big picture view vs. entrepreneurial success stories?

      Many times an entrepreneur who has risen by the seat of their pants, and by marketing themselves as the product often do not
      rise above that DIY mentality. They have a sea of assistants and in some cases fellow entrepreneur’s as their VP’s of this and that. And what it boils down to is a company run by people who could and do sell gourmet coffee to seattle residents… and sunshine in SoCal.

      But you are absolutely right. A company without customer service… is a company that eventually… will be without customers.



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