Editor’s note: It has come to light that the car was not gifted by BMW. It was actually given as a ‘comfort car’ for few days.
It all began with Vishal Gondal, Managing Director, DisneyUTV Digital and a powerful social media influencer entrusting his Audi Q7 to an authorized Audi service station at Kalina.
Vishal had installed a GPS tracking system by TechnoPurple in his car that records an accurate data of the Vehicle’s movements. On 23rd November, Friday, around 3.30 am , he received an automated message on his mobile that his car had exceeded its speed limit.
He quickly checked the whereabouts of his car early in the morning and was taken aback to know that his Audi Q7 “Bat-mobile” was speeding all over Mumbai during the night! It had covered 159 kilometers!
The reports generated by the tracking software helped in verifying the route and the stoppages of the car. An online map indicated that his car was driven from Kalina to Juhu, Marine Drive, Ghatkopar, Chembur and Kurla. For a good amount of time it was at the Kural Scrap Yard, which is the last place you want your car to be.
It was brought back to the Audi Service Station the next morning.
Being a digital savvy person, Vishal posted the whole story with the details of his Audi Q7 joyride on Facebook and Twitter. The news got shared like anything before you know it, Audi had a crisis in its hand.
— vishal gondal (@vishalgondal) November 23, 2012
A Timely Response was Needed
Audi India failed to respond on time. The first tweet from Vishal went out somewhere around 8AM and Audi responds to it only after 11AM. That’s 3 loooooong hours!
When a global brand like Audi fails to respond immediately to an influencer, then it is missing out on one of the most important benefits of using social media. More so when the person aggrieved is an influencer with a very wide reach; Vishal has 22k twitter followers and more than 11k subscribers on Facebook.
Dear @vishalgondal, would request you to DM us your contact number as well. Thank you.
— Audi India (@AudiIN) November 23, 2012
Also, playing DM-DM is a sad game. Telcos do that who have millions of users. If you are selling a premium automobile, you must be having all the data about the user. But it seems the team handling their social media works in isolation.
While it was nice to see Audi India’s MD, Michael Perschke trying to help, but it was just too late.
— Michael Perschke(@PerschkeMichael) November 23, 2012
In addition, Audi India should have dealt with it directly instead of letting the service station staff mess up the case with its clarifications. Instead, they shared photos of a handwritten register and odomoter which worsened the case even more. May be the service centre didn’t know Vishal is a social media influencer.
In that case Audi India should have informed the same to the service centre guys. This is where the concept of Social Business becomes so integral to brand. There has to be quick and seamless flow of information to all the arms of a business, we are living in an age where every complaint has the potential to become a crisis.
While Audi India lagged behind in handling the crisis, its competitor BMW India acted decisively and was fleet-footed in grabbing its stroke of luck! It rewarded Vishal with a Mini Cooper as a comfort car for a few days.
— vishal gondal (@vishalgondal) November 24, 2012
The Road Ahead
While the issue got resolved yesterday, I believe it could have been resolved quickly.
— vishal gondal (@vishalgondal) November 29, 2012
It’s not a normal customer you’re dealing with here. The aggrieved customer has the power of social media with him and has a wide reach as well. You need to be swift in this age where words spread faster than wildfire.
While every complaint is serious for a brand, the ones by influencers should be resolved quickly. In this case, such a complaint by a normal user might not have created so much buzz. Brands have to realize the power of influencers.
Such circumstances are learning opportunities for everyone. I hope Audi India has learned quite a bit from this incident.
Image courtesy: Free Digital Photos