I am admittedly coming in late on Tim's recent problems with his Saturn VUE, and Saturn dealership. Tim recalls the story from start to finish(with an assist from MasiWife). It seems there was a problem with the SUV's computer, which meant that the car's engine would literally shut off WHILE BEING DRIVEN! So Tim would instantly lose the ability to steer AND brake. Nice! Over the course of the next several weeks, Tim fought with the dealership to do the right thing every step of the way, including paying a thousand for a new computer, only to discover that the 'repair' didn't work because the dealership had put the computer in BACKWARDS!
As best I can tell, the end result was that the Saturn dealership repaired the computer a SECOND time, gave Tim a rental while they were, and Saturn offered their apology with....wait for it....4 free coupons for free oil changes from ANY Saturn dealership!
I'm sure from Saturn's point of view, they feel vindicated. The guys' SUV broke, they fixed it, well not the first time, but they apologized for it and gave him $100 (because we all know that $100 worth of coupons is as good as cash, right?). The bottom line is that Saturn approached this entire process from what was best from THEIR point of view, not Tim's. And recall that the entire time Tim is dealing with this frustrating process, he has Saturn's brand mantra of 'A Different Kind of Car, a Different Kind of Car Company' ringing in his ears.
As we all know, businesses are frequently leery of going 'the extra mile' for customers, unless they can see a number on their balance sheet that tells them EXACTLY how much money they will gain from treating their customers right. But here's the flipside, how much money will Saturn LOSE from Tim's experience?
One of the posts that Tim left during this customer service ordeal included 'I hate Saturn' in the title. I decided to do a Google search for the term 'I hate Saturn', and sure enough, Tim's post is now the FOURTH result from Google for that term, with the first three concerning the book 'Why I Hate Saturn'.
Now the question for Saturn is: What dollar amount would you put on the business that your automaker will lose worldwide, as a result from that one blog post from one dis-satisfied customer? That dollar amount will no doubt be many many times what you got from Tim. Now the flipside is, your company could have likely spent a FRACTION of that money on ensuring that Tim's experience was handed as smoothly as possible, putting HIS concerns and fears and frustrations at the fore-front throughout. The end result is that you would have had a new BRAND EVANGELIST for your company, and that 'I hate Saturn' post would have very likely been replaced with an 'I love my Saturn!' post from Tim.
Instead we have Saturn's crappy products and crappy customer service ringing all over the blogosphere.
Satisfy your customers' wants and needs directly, and they will satisfy your company's wants and needs indirectly. Companies that attempt to satisfy their wants and needs first, especially post-purchase, get what Saturn is getting now.
And I guess this won't change until companies can plug in a number next to 'Putting the customer first' on their balance sheet and understand the direct monetary benefit. Again, the benefit comes indirectly, and until companies understand that, we'll likely keep seeing more 'I hate Saturn' posts than we will the 'I love Saturn!' variety.
The Viral Garden, Marketing, MasiGuy, Saturn