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I Am Whatever You Say I Am – Company Branding In The Automotive Business

03 April 2011

Don't let that one negative comment be the end of your solid reputation

We’re a live chat company. Just in case the name of the product (CarChat24) didn’t give it away, I just thought I’d state the obvious. What do you think about us?

Be honest.

Let’s say 100 people claimed we were a fabulous company with a great product, record response time, and one of the best voices in the automotive service provider network.

Another 100 people claim we are a terrible company with a horrible product and no solid proof of marked success.

Who’s correct?

I’d personally say the first 100 people, because, well, I love this company. I’ve been with the company for nearly 2 years and I love the president and all of the employees.

The sad truth is that both groups of people are right. While it does matter what I, and the rest of the company think of our business and product, we don’t have a successful company brand if what we say we are matches what people say that we are.

That second group of 100 people could be anyone; dealers who didn’t utilize the live chat service correctly, or who had internal problems that affected their low conversion rate. They could be previous members of a competitor team who believe that we aren’t good at what we do. In this scenario, half of the people say we’re awesome, the other half say we’re horrible, so in some ways, no matter if it’s completely valid and backed by facts or not, in this example we’re a bad company.

Do you know how quickly a negative message can be re-posted and re-tweeted? I sent a message out to my friends a few nights ago proclaiming an accomplishment that I had made. 67 people replied to me within 3 minutes. Sixty-Seven! Word spreads fast on the web. Much faster than you may realize. One bad complaint can turn into thousands very quickly.

How to recover from a bad reputation:

The best way to address any and all complaints or negative opinions is to go directly to the source. Send an e-mail to Bob Smith from ABC Motors. “Hey Bob, I saw that you’re not happy with our company or services. I don’t know what we did wrong to make you feel this way, but let’s talk. I feel like you have some valid concerns and if we have some internal problems, from one business person to another, would you work with me to fix them?”

See that? And it’s not even lip service. Surely, Bob Smith may have had a misunderstanding with a representative. Or maybe he sees some kind of internal improvement that you could make. Regardless, address the concerns, and come to a resolution. Just because your product doesn’t work for a particular dealer, so long as it didn’t do them any large-scale damage, they should still consider you a good company.

For example, I had a bad experience with Vista Print business card ordering. I ordered $40 worth of business cards and I never received them. I also didn’t get a response to several e-mails that I submitted to them. I sent a Twitter message saying that I was aggrevated with @VistaPrint and didn’t know if they’d get my business again.

10 minutes later I had a representative contact me, issue a refund, and send me my order for free.  Does it erase the fact that I had a bad experience? No. But does it show proactive problem solving that someone contacted me? Yes. I didn’t even need the refund or the free order. If the representative would have explained the lapse in contact, I’d still recommend them to friends. I still use them to this day with no problem.

Bottom line, not everyone will like you. But everyone should respect you as a company. If a significant amount of people give you negative feedback, then that’s what your company is. Don’t settle for “Mostly good feedback”. Strive for “All great feedback”. You may never get All great, but striving for that, putting that little extra in could mean the difference between a good company brand, and a failed company brand.

Leave a good taste in people’s mouths.