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Wish We Had Customer-Noise-Cancelling

, , , , | Right | November 15, 2022

A customer has recently purchased an SUV and has brought it back to have an accessory they ordered installed. The request is for a fairly simple badging upgrade; however, customers will sometimes take this time to ask service or their salesperson about a feature or to report a problem.

As I’m finishing applying the badging and making sure it’s installed correctly, the advisor handling his work order comes to me with a question she’s unable to answer.

Advisor: “The customer is telling me that the two rear speakers aren’t working properly.”

This is odd, but occasionally, vehicles do ship with a feature not working, though it’s usually caught before customer delivery.

I start looking into the concern by shifting the radio playback balance to the rear of the vehicle and note that, while there is still music playing, there are two speaker grids that don’t appear to have any sound coming from them. I note this and check the vehicle’s equipment sheet to determine what sound system it has. As it turns out, it only has a basic sound system, one speaker in each door, and one in the dashboard at the front.

The two grids in the rear are actually for a new feature for this model: Active Noise Cancellation. It basically makes a sound that can’t be heard by normal human hearing to muffle the sounds of the road and wind, making the cabin quieter and more comfortable.

With this knowledge, I inform the advisor:

Me: “This vehicle only has a basic five-speaker sound system that is functioning normally, and the speakers in the trunk are not used for radio playback.”

I leave to park the vehicle in the pickup area, and the advisor asks me if I can explain the sound system’s function to the customer. I hand off the paperwork and the keys to the advisor, who leads me to the customer.

Customer: “When my kids are sitting in the third row, they’re saying they can’t hear the radio out of the speakers back there.”

Me: “I understand that. I looked into the exact sound system your truck has and found out that the only speakers used for radio playback are in the doors and dashboard; you have the basic five-speaker system.”

Customer: “Yeah, but they can’t hear anything back there. Is there something we can do to fix that?”

Me: “Unfortunately, no. The ‘speakers’ in the trunk area aren’t used for the purpose of playing music; they’re exclusively for Active Noise Cancellation.”

I explain how that all works and am satisfied that I cannot possibly break it down any further.

Customer: “Well, they can’t hear anything back there! Isn’t there a way you can change the radio to make them work?”

Me: “Sir, the speakers aren’t broken; they just don’t work the way you think they do.”

Customer: “But you can change them so that they can make noise, right?”

Me: “Sir, that would defeat the point of the system.”

Customer: “But I don’t want that feature!”

It’s not optional and can’t be removed.

Customer: “I want the radio to work in the back of the car!”

Me: “Unfortunately, sir, I can’t change how your sound system works, it wasn’t designed for what you want, and I need to return to my work. The best thing I can suggest is shifting the balance to the rear and turning the volume up slightly.”

The customer still could not understand why a speaker that was not connected to the radio couldn’t play music. After what felt like thirty minutes of trying to explain the same things and just moving in a circle, I turned back to the advisor and told her there was nothing more I could do here and I needed to do more important work. As far as I know, he never did get those speakers “working”.

Question of the Week

What is the most stupid reason a customer has asked to see your manager?

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