Customer service impacts your reputation.
A couple of weeks ago, I was surprised when I read this headline - Audi passes BMW in global sales to take lead in luxury race.
Just last year, BMW was voted the most reputable company on the Earth.
And last over the weekend, I was shocked by this incident that happened close to where I stay - A protest by Volkswagon customers at their Malaysian HQ.
"Nearly 50 disgruntled Volkswagen owners gathered at the steps of Volkswagen Group Malaysia's (VGM) headquarters in Bangsar earlier today to voice their complaints about the poor after sales experience and unreliability of their Volkswagen cars.
Executives from the company were present at the lobby to listen to the complaints brought forth by the group. According to the co-organiser of the gathering, Ben Yeo, the group is demanding that VGM would be able to deliver a product that is safe and reliable, as well as improve their after sales service.
We feel cheated about the warranty and safety, a number of Volkswagen owners have had to change the engines and replace the clutch pack in their cars in the span of less than two years, said Yeo. Furthermore some of us had our warranty voided by the manufacturer due to minor overruns in the car's service interval."
If you read that, you get the impression that VW makes unsafe cars and their customer service sucks. And this is from a German car company. Something unthinkable. As I related this to my wife, she blurted out that she almost bought a VW 2 years ago.
You’re probably aware that Audi is owned by VW. So how could Audi become a reputable brand worldwide but VW sank and stank in Malaysia?
Whatever the reason, this has become sensational news and bad publicity for VW.
I mean who would have imagined that VW customers would actually walk around with placards. Most VW customers are professionals, so this leaves an even worse taste in the mouth, compared to if it happened to a Malaysian brand (which everyone is used to).
At least this protest got the attention of the CEO as well, who had to come down to the ground.
With technology today, you really don’t have to walk around in the sweltering heat to shout out your bad experiences. There are 3rd party review sites where you can throw your negative (and good) reviews of a company or brand.
Many people are aware of Trip Advisor, which focuses on reviews of the hospitality and tourism markets. There’s Yelp for the other sectors. In fact Yelp itself has earned a bad press over the last few years. Here’s a recent one from early this month.
"Yelp is taking some harsh criticism in the media once again. Its handling of fake reviews is coming under fire, as is its worth to consumers. Business owners are speaking out (as usual), and celebrity chef/TV personality/food writer Andrew Zimmern, who has been critical of Yelp in the past, is calling it 'worthless'.
This is the reason why I don’t touch Yelp with a 10-ft pole. I always use Google+ for my clients. I find it easier to work with and there’s much less controversy with it. It’s also a free service that will automatically create a review page for a company.
If you’re a business owner or a management staff, you have to remember that people seek recommendations from friends and family. With technology, they go online to search for online reviews. These online reviews will kill your business or blast it to the stratosphere.
I end this will this snippet from Influence at Work...
"Recent research has found that around 7 in 10 Americans will consult the online reviews of other consumers before making a purchase. I have to admit to being surprised by this. I would have guessed it would have been more. Numbers aside though, when making a decision, word-of-mouth communications are valuable for one very important reason; people presume them to be less biased than the carefully crafted communications created by marketers who clearly have a vested interest in influencing our decisions."
Tell us where you turn to for information before you purchase a high ticket item...
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