A great experience – at Experience BMW

Occasionally I get great customer service experiences – and so it is each time with Experience BMW in Auckland. At BMW stores there is no hard pressure to buy – the stores let the bikes sell themselves, and like Apple I seem to have a addiction weakness for their products. Both compamies make it easy.

The other week I wanted to go on a motorbike trip, but as it was going to be two-up I needed a bit more luggage than my Givi top case. I have a couple of old aluminium side cases rolling around from South America days, but they are designed to fit onto my old BMW F650 – a bike which is now sold.

Here they are getting a clean in Salta by the pension proprietress after a dusty run from Chile. Note the lack of a chain guard – which are notoriously useless on these bikes, and the lack of which didn’t affect anything when eventually I did throw a chain.

However fitting those boxy side cases to my current bike – a BMW R1200GSA was going to be problematic – in particular as one side of the BMW racks is sharply curved around the exhaust.

I went into the local BMW shop to see whether they had any BMW boxes – and to have a giggle at the prices. Actually it’s the former BMW franchise, though they still do BMW service and supply parts. The bloke in parts searched online and found the side cases for the bike – but one side was $1200 and in Auckland and the other side was $1800 and was going to have to be shipped from Germany.

Welcome to BMW pricing. Giggle factor 9.

Given that it was Thursday, and I really wanted the boxes for the weekend (or bust), shipping from Germany (let alone the price) wasn’t going to work. I also pondered why BMW’s warehouse in Auckland apparently had several left hand cases and no right hand ones.

Not to worry – it turns out that the workshop over the road was full of smart people that could make me a bracket for the old boxes. That would be a much cheaper option.

Sadly they were wildly busy, and unable to fabricate the rack for some time. That’s good news for their business, but still left me without luggage for the trip to the South Island.

I was left with one option – Auckland’s Experience BMW. I’d originally purchased my motorcycle from them and so I made a quick phone call to them to see whether they had any in there store.

They didn’t, but the parts guy searched online, and found that there were actually several of each in the Auckland warehouse. The price was $1200 apiece. He also thought that price was pretty outrageous, and sadly told me that I would also need to get locks for the boxes at a couple of hundred bucks. However for me the killer factor was whether we could get the boxes to Wellington in time – if he could not I wasn’t really interested. It was getting late on Thursday afternoon (I really am a demanding customer) but he said that he could make it happen. He offered to go to the BMW warehouse himself, bring the boxes and locks back, get the locks put on to the boxes and then ship them to me in Wellington. This wasn’t after pushing – I asked and he just said ‘no problem – here is what I will do’. He also, after I asked nicely, dropped the price and threw in the shipping as well.

It was all too easy – so we had a deal.

The next day I was a bit concerned that the boxes were not going to arrive – but nearing 3pm I checked the door – and lo and behold:

They had arrived – and everything inside was already set up.
Don’t they look pretty, in a practical Teutonic way?

The easily clicked on to the bike.

and of course they worked perfectly.

They are a very high quality bit of kit – though I didn’t test out whether the speed recommendation is correct or not. I think I can safely say that they are adequate for my needs. (The one on the left)

It’s a boring story really – I had a requirement, Experience BMW met it, made everything easy for me and so we had a deal.

When I purchased my motorcycle from them a few years back it was a very similar situation.

It was a Wednesday afternoon before a long weekend, a deal was struck on the phone conditional on them getting the bike to me the next day. Experience BMW hauled the bike out of customs, clicked everything together in the workshop, got it registered and warranted and had it ready for me to ride out of Auckland on the Thursday afternoon. Magic.

But why did I buy the bike from them and not from the local dealer? There were three reasons.

The first was that they were the only ones with a decent website and contact us form – which I used to ask whether the bike was coming in while I was travelling in Europe and thinking of upgrading. The lesson? Make sure your website is easy to use and customers can easily contact you. Reply when they do (we had an email exchange)

The second was that they could supply in a hurry – turns out they had placed me on the waiting list – and I got the first one on the road in the country (allegedly – a colleague also contends he had the first one). The lesson? Don’t make customers wait.

The third reason was the main one. When my F650GS arrived from South America a couple of years before this Experience BMW, which had just opened, lent me a chain guard to ensure that it passed its first warrant of fitness. That act of kindness (let’s call it customer service) to a BMW customer, but not their customer, eventually earned them over $35,000 in business. The lesson? Never miss an opportunity to deliver great customer service – no matter who it is.

The chain guard was a great BMW customer service moment, but frankly was one that by then I almost expected from BMW. After motorcycling in so many countries I was used to be treated almost like royalty when I turned up, dusty, battered and in desperate need of a service at a BMW dealer. Not for me the “appointment next week”, but space was usually cleared almost immediately in the workshop and mechanics put other bikes on hold to do a pit stop for the traveller. Other customers would gather around and enjoy the moment – they were quite happy to have their bikes on hold while they caught up with the latest crazy loon and laughed at his battered machine.

I have similar stories about buying bikes from BMW motorcycle shops in Durban, Perth, London (x2) and in Maryland, USA. I doubt that the company knows how much money I have spent on their machines over the years, they have managed to take over, probably, 80% of the money I have ever spent on vehicles.

BMW motorcycles feels like a global company, and are delivering a consistent brand experience across the world. That means when it comes time to buy the decision is easy.

How does your company compare?

About Lance Wiggs

@lancewiggs
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5 Responses to A great experience – at Experience BMW

  1. Roy says:

    Lance…you are truly addicted. $1200NZD for a box? Even a really really nice box (and they are nice, I grant you) is pretty extreme.

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  2. Pingback: Never buy the warranty: Repairing is cheap « Lance Wiggs

  3. Paddy Janes says:

    Great story , nice to be able to get what you want!
    Now , what happened to the old F650 boxes , as i have a 1996 F650 (bought it 3months ago , 32k on the clock)and have been on the lookout for some luggage.But most stuff is new and quite expensive , especially if you have to watch your finances .
    Just a long shot!

    “Growing old is compulsory…growing up is optional”

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    • Lance Wiggs says:

      I still have the aluminium boxes – one easy owner. That owner of course took them into places they really shouldn’t go, bounced one on the road for a while and welded and rewelded them back together. Still – they are strong and spacious, if a little used.

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