Today's blog lesson is in the area of reputation management
Case Study: ABC Cars, a used car dealership.
An individual decides he wants to trade in his car. Actually the buyer wants to trade up, one car for a better car. The initial problem the buyer has is that he doesn't want to spend any cash so how will he trade one car for a nicer car without cash money. He decides to use his motorcycle as an additional trade in to get the car he wants.
ABC Cars, a high end used car dealership and offers cars like Mercedes Benz, Range Rover, BMW, Infinity, Cadillac and other fine used vehicles. In this case, ABC Cars sells a Range Rover to this buyer. The dealership, in an effort to close this deal offers the buyer a set of oversize tires and wheels because the buyer had previously expressed an intrest in the look of a vehicle with oversize tires and wheels. Had ABC Cars really known the high end vehicles they were selling would have realized that this Range Rovers includes a suspension system that adjusts from low to high. This becomes an immediate problem becasue when the Range Rover goes into the lower suspension setting, it causes the oversize wheels to rub the fenders and cause damage to both tires and wheel wells. This immediately hurts the reputation of ABC Cars especially if the buyer starts to share these facts to his/her social network online.
In this case study, the buyers experience goes from bad to worse when the buyer learns that ABC Cars sold this car and let it leave the show room with an oil leak that would take a few days to be discovered. After the buyer figures this out and takes the vehicle to multiple mechanics that confirm this oil leak is a serious issue and should have never left ABC Cars, the buyer returns to ABC Cars for an explaination. Asanka Cars explains this oil leak as merely a dirty engine. Once the buyer proves there is a significant oil leak and the dealership most likely knew but chose to ignore it, the buyer realized and understood the following:
Today's buyers and customers have a voice. They have a microphone and an audience. The days where an unsatisfied customer had little recourse and almost zero methods to expose and share a bad experience like the one in this case study are disappearing. One interesting reality here is that many product and service providers like ABC Cars have yet to understand that there has to be a 2 way conversation and that they need to respond online to any customer complaint. It's a difficult lesson to learn becasue when a provider ignores an unhappy customer, the experience spreads online and damages the reputation of the provider. In this case ABC Cars. Even if ABC Cars responded online and explained their point of view and demonstrated that they sincerely cared about the customer, their reputation would be better served. However in this case, ABC Cars demonstrated that were more interested in the profit margin than keeping their customer happy.
This is a powerful lesson in reputation management and the fact that all customers now have a stronger voice with a microphone to share both good and bad experiences on major networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, You Tube as well as the major search engines. As a service provider ignores the disatisfaction of their customers, they not only loose repeat business from this unhappy customer, they are likely to loose multiple prospects and customers who have read bad reviews and bad experiences. This is one reason that companies like Angie's List are so successful and do a great job helping consumers make a better and more informed decision.
If you are a business, the lesson you might learn is that reputation management needs to be an active component of your marketing blueprint. Look for online conversations that include your brand, keywords and direct references to customer experiences.