An open letter to Nissan India
A peeved customer writes about the unpleasantness of being a Micra owner.
Not sure if you would understand what it means to buy your first car. It’s a lot of emotions… now imagine being hit by another car randomly on the second day of purchase! Bad enough right? Not quite…
So on the very second day of getting my car, my car was hit by another car. So much so that the two doors on the left had to be completely replaced or so we thought. So while at the accident spot, we (me and my dad) tried calling your workshop. Just to know what to do now with it. What were we asked to do… “Bring the car, we will evaluate and let you know”.
Simple rule no 1: when you get a stress call – do not ask the person to do things that may irritate him more. How about tell him “calm down sir. We will surely help you. Where did the accident happen? Let me check if we can send someone over… or if it’s not a problem do you think you can come down to the workshop…” (Trust me the way you handle your phone calls really make a difference)
So we take the car to the workshop which is almost like a never ending drive to another part of the city. You evaluate. You tell us that the car needs to be at the workshop for a week. Obviously we are sort of stumped. A week to replace two doors! Why? That’s because the insurance guy needs to come evaluate and then the work starts. But still why a week!
So the car is sent to the workshop the next day (we couldn’t leave the car and get back home from that god forsaken place) with the driver. When finally the day comes for the delivery, we get a call from the workshop that you will take some more time because of some holiday that had come in between. My point why commit and not deliver. Why not make a call a day before and tell your customer that it’s not happening.
Simple rule no 2: do not say it won’t happen on the delivery day. It annoying because your customer’s expectations were built by you! (It’s about showing some empathy)
For me, it was a very cold experience. It was my first car accident. It could have been handled properly.
Why I write this: over and above all these minor issues which could have been a one off case probably, the workshop is very far. After three months when I was due for my first servicing, a guy came from your workshop took the car (I live in Dwarka) and came back with an empty tank post the servicing!
Simple rule no 3: You may not be able to set up many workshops, but how about delighting your customers to keep them loyal to you. How about just filling up their tank… or at least in some way not make them feel that pinch of the distance.
Recently I had a scratch that I wanted to get corrected. Do you know what I did? I went to my dad’s local guy, got it fixed for 1000 bucks in two hours and was back home. Do you know why?
1) I did not want to travel a long distance for a scratch
2) I remembered my last experience
3) I thought about the empty tank
4) I also thought maybe if not a week then the car will be away for at least a day. And that probably was the most important reason.
The writer here is a 28 year old woman based in Delhi and a 3 month old Micra is her first car. In a way, her ordeal corroborates what we already know– that newer companies that enter India do not get it right when it comes to after sales.
Carmakers seldom set up company owned and operated showrooms and most in India are franchises. In the case of Nissan, it is even more peculiar. Its sales and service paraphernalia is outsourced to a third party by the name of Hover Automotive, which means the company is further insulated from what goes on in the showrooms.
But after sales remains an integral part of car ownership in India. Though it may not play a big part in decision making at the time of purchase, a prolonged bad word of mouth has far reaching consequences. Ask Skoda and they will tell you how.
It is also true that one customer’s bad experience does not mean it is a systemic failure. Absolutely not. But some of the issues raised here like the time taken to service the car, or the lack of proper communication or simple things like empty fuel tank is irritating.
For every 1 bad experience, there may be a 100 good ones as well. Congratulations to Nissan if that is the case. In these times of cut throat competition however, I do not think Nissan or Volkswagen, Ford, General Motors, Toyota, Honda, Renault and Skoda can afford even one disgruntled customer. As it stands, I do not think there is any debate that on a scale than is atleast 50 times bigger, Maruti and Hyundai are doing a much better job.
The purpose of this post is not to berate the company but to highlight a grey area that needs to be fixed. The customer remains supremely satisfied with the car and that is a job well done. Hover’s after sales is trying to undo the good work.
This is also not something that is a by-product of my fertile imagination. The identity of the writer is undisclosed only so that the customer is not subjected to unintended malice. If Nissan or their dealer wish to redress the issues, I would be more than willing to reveal the identity to them.