So I’m about eleven months away from the expiration of my car lease and I don’t think it’s too early to start researching a new vehicle. My current ride is the official state car of Arizona, a white four-door sedan. Very comfortable, extremely reliable, great on gas mileage, and it was affordable.
Next time around, however, I’m thinking of going a little bigger, possibly something SUV’ish, truck’ish, or even Minivan’ish. That’s because I will probably be doing a little bit more hauling of grandkids, groceries, and plywood, not necessarily in that order.
And so, I’ve begun my top secret research, looking at advance photos of next generation SUV’s and minivans, possibly even crew cab pickup trucks, the other official vehicle of Arizona. I’ve also been checking websites such as Edmunds, Kelley Blue Book, Consumer Reports, and the big auto magazines. It’s amazing how much information is out there…down to the last millimeter of every nook and cranny of every vehicle.
Well, I think that I’ve got my short list of contenders whittled down to my top five… or six…or seven. But all the statistics and photos in the world don’t really tell the story of what it’s like to sit behind the wheel, get the speedometer up to 30 or even 40 miles an hour, and see how many rolls of Costco toilet paper fit behind the last row of seats.
This morning I was on my 6 AM walk with Bruno the Wonder Dog and I walked right past a neighbor’s open garage. Inside was one of my short list cars. My neighbor was about to drive away and I greeted her a good morning and casually said, “How do you like your new Jeep?” She stopped in her tracks and went on for five minutes about all of the things, large and small that she loved about the car. I thanked her, after verifying that she didn’t work for the dealer or the manufacturer, and continued on my way.
As I walked I thought to myself, “This car is now near the top of my short list. It sounds like the perfect choice.” And it occurred to me that my neighbor’s spontaneous little speech had more influence on me than all of the research I had done to that point and all the advertising that I had ever seen for the car and the brand. A few heart-felt words from a neighbor swayed me more than anything else I had seen or read.
What’s my point? It’s that in today’s highly connected world, whether through social media, mass communications, texting, or talking we are influenced by buyers/users/consumers/raving fans far more than by sellers/marketers/advertisers.
Which made me think, “How do our customers really feel about what we do? And are they telling us about it when we screw up? Are they telling others when we do a good job?” Based on my car research experience I’m asking all of our readers to share the good and the bad with each other, and to especially let us know when we’ve let you down or missed your highest expectations. If you do, we can work on constantly improving our flaws. And if you share your positive experiences with friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers we can serve more of you to the best of our abilities. We can also share many of the great insights that we learn from you each and every day as well. So start texting, tweeting, posting, e-mailing or calling. We’re looking forward to getting our “report card”.
Thanks for reading.