Gas Station Customer Service

gas-pump I used to live in a state where other people pumped your gas for you (New Jersey). Now I live in a state where people are responsible for pumping their own gas (Florida). Needless to say, when I first moved to Florida, having to pump my own gas was weird. Since the weather is usually pretty good, it isn’t a big deal, but I have had to learn how to use the various interfaces at gas stations.

I’m not sure if it is Florida, but gas stations seem to have the worst user interfaces. While the systems aren’t difficult to use or confusing, they just don’t work well. The interfaces seem antiquated at best. I definitely think an innovative design firm (IDEO comes to mind) could make huge improvements.

From my experience, BP seems to have the best interfaces. Their pumps just seem to work better than other pumps than do. Their interface seems more up to date and the pumps seem to be designed better.

One gas station I go to does some little things to try and make the experience better. They have little signs up called “quote of the day” with quotes from various famous people. They also have a sign up saying how they do some sort of filtering that most gas stations don’t do.

Things like that help make gas stations better. The individual gas station owner probably does not have much control over the pumps and how they are designed, but they can definitely work to make nice little improvements. They can also work to take better care of the station than many of them.

Unfortunately, customer service is often judged by how service is elsewhere in the industry. The best customer service companies don’t compare themselves to people in their industries, but companies that are known for providing great service in any industry (Ritz Carlton, Nordstrom, whoever).

I’ve never worked with a gas station before, but I imagine there are plenty of ways to improve the customer experience. Work on improving the interface, offer some additional services that might interest folks, other things like the quote of the day.

The most important thing is to always be looking for ways you can improve. No matter how small the change, a whole bunch of little things make a big difference collectively.

4 Responses to “Gas Station Customer Service”

  1. Chris Young said:

    Nov 10, 07 at 11:03 pm

    In my area we have a Sam’s Club gas station. No service for the most part except a pump attendant that sits in a little hut. But there is this one guy… He’s a bit rough around the edges. He makes it a point to come by to everyone who is pumping gas and say, “Hello!”

    Strange… But I find myself looking for him every time I drive by or stop in to get gas. In an “odd” way – I guess it keeps me coming back.

    Gas is a commodity. The Customer Experience tied to that commodity makes it different.

    Great commentary! Thank you!

    Chris Young

  2. Service Untitled said:

    Nov 11, 07 at 1:19 am

    Chris,

    That is interesting. It is often the smallest things that big the biggest differences. 🙂

  3. prathigna said:

    Jan 10, 08 at 1:36 am

    Hi,

    I am architect in India and we, at our office are designing this new gas station. So in the process of designing we were thinking of what additional facilities the station could offer other than refuelling. This is when i came across your post.
    Here in India good coustomer care in Petrol Bunks (that what we call gas stations here, because our primary fuel is pertrol and disel. Gas such as CNG and LPG are only coming in now) is catching up pretty fast. First of all we dont have self service bunks here. So every bunk where ever in the country have attendants. Some reputed bunks (reputed petrol companies such as Shell) have now trained their staff to be customer friendly such as greeting evey customers who drives in to fill fuel. Though these are small gestures, it definitely helps in creating a warm impression about the place and hence a recall value. So in turn it helps the bunks to do better business too. In the coming years, I predict customer care will be one of the driving factors for brand/gas station loyality among customers.
    Anyways, your post was a good read.

    best,
    Prathigna.

  4. Service Untitled said:

    Jan 10, 08 at 3:07 am

    Prathigna,

    Thanks for your comment.

    Your observations are right on I think. The little things like greeting customers can make a huge difference in an industry like gas stations where the practice (however simple) is unheard of. Those companies that seem to get it will do well I think.

    Thanks again for your comment!