Nancy Fein, Lexus’ Vice-President of Customer Services, recently gave a talk at the Source Media Customer Engagement Symposium, where she discussed how Lexus reacts when things go wrong. Bill Taylor, co-founder of Fast Company and business author, was at the event and recapped the presentation:
…what happens when big dreams get mugged by reality? That’s what Nancy Fein addressed in her talk. As soon as the first Lexus 400 sedans hit the market, she said, the company learned that there were three minor technical problems with the car.
So more than 300 Lexus officials organized into small groups and traveled to all parts of the country. They visited the affected customers at home, brought them a gift, apologized for the glitches in person, and, of course, brought along a technician who fixed the problems. On the spot. In their driveways.
A familiar story, but I was very interested to read about a more current event:
Last year, another small problem developed with a Lexus model—this time, the new ES 350 sedan. Something about the transmission skipping second gear and slipping from first to third. (Don’t ask for more details, I’m not a car guy.) The problem affected about 700 cars before the Lexus factories fixed it. This time, rather than visit customers at their homes, Lexus did ask them to visit their dealer. But instead of just fixing the problem, Lexus gave all the affected customers a brand new car. No questions asked.
Being as how a faulty transmission is a fairly significant repair, having dealers swap the cars with new ones has to be the most effective response that I can think of. With no time lost by the owner, there’s no bad feelings, no backlash. Even better, Lexus can repair the affected vehicles and then resell them at a slight discount.
[Source: Havard Business Online]