Lily Tomlin as Ernestine the operator
And of course, there's the potential PR problem that automakers might face by speaking to customers in a forum environment. Fans have often assumed that they could grouse about their vehicles without the manufacturer listening in. Does it seem Big Brothery, then, when a company rep speaks up on a forum?
Gorlier and his colleagues at Ford and GM are absolutely on the right path. Although there are undoubtedly vehicle problems that online reps haven't been able to fix, as long as those reps make an effort to speak to customers with dignity, respect, and attention to their individual concerns -- not via canned messages -- those customers are likely to feel an increased loyalty to their favorite brands. And given how competitive sales are nowadays, that kind of loyalty can make all the difference.
We're curious to know how many of you regularly participate in online forums. If you do, have you ever been contacted by a company rep? Drop us a line, or leave a note in the comments below.