Motor dealer bungles customer care in Twitter gaffe

Tuesday October 21 2014

A 2010 Range Rover Vogue. A classic example of poor customer service endured by Kenyans manifested itself on Monday when a motor company tweeted a reply to a high profile client asking him to take a cold beer in lieu of service. PHOTO | FILE

A 2010 Range Rover Vogue. A classic example of poor customer service endured by Kenyans manifested itself on Monday when a motor company tweeted a reply to a high-profile client asking him to take a cold beer in lieu of service. PHOTO | FILE 

By EVELYNE MUSAMBI
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Kenyan consumers have long endured bad customer service from their service providers, who blatantly make a show of their poor understanding of social media.

A classic example manifested itself on Monday when a motor company tweeted a reply to a high-profile client asking him to take a cold beer in lieu of service.

It all started when Bharat Thakrar, the chief executive officer of Scangroup, a marketing services firm, tweeted RMA about his car, a Sh30 million customised vehicle that was bought three years ago from CMC Motors.

“I am getting fed up of my Range letting me down. The most expensive car is the worst serviced in Kenya. @RangeRover @rangerovernews pls help.”

He went on to complain about how often he takes his sport utility vehicle to the RMA shop: “Need some help from @RangeRover @rangerovernews @alykhansatchu @RangeRoverUSA to get my Range fixed. The car spends two days a month at RMA.”

The first response from the RMA Kenya Twitter handle @RMAKenya promised action.

COLD BEER

“@bharatthakrar please DM us your contacts so that our CEO and head of servicing can be in touch soonest. Many thanks.”

Mr Thakrar then engaged the company, stating that he hoped they were serious about a communication from the officials, “Assume you mean this and not just managing your social media. Remember I run a digital, PR & Comms buss.”

Moments later, a tweet from the company stated that the head of servicing had called Mr Thakrar but could not reach him and was only able to leave a message.

When Mr Thakrar inquired about the CEO’s response to the matter raised by the customer, RMA Kenya tweeted the CEO’s message, “@bharatthakrar spoken to the CEO, his message is that our team is enjoying #MashujaaDay today; putting families first, but a technical rep.”

The company then went ahead to notify Mr Thakrar that his matter would be followed up on Tuesday, tweeting, “@bharatthakrar will be in touch to discuss one-to-one your outburst here & what can be done. For today; have a cold tusker & enjoy the day.”

It is that tweet that sparked a conversation on Twitter over perceived poor customer service and the assumption that the client takes beer.

Sunny Bindra (@sunnysunwords) tweeted, “Hey @RMAKenya, why is a legit complaint by @bharatthakrar an 'outburst?' And why assume he drinks?”

Some Twitter users questioned whether the company’s account had been hacked. Nikhil Hira ‏tweeted, “@sunnysunwords @amuraya this can't be serious! Has @RMAKenya account been hacked?”

GO OFFLINE NOW

Others felt that would just be a scapegoat: “@Nikhil_Hira @amuraya That's what they always say.”

The company clarified that its earlier tweet on Tusker was meant to be, “Hey everyone - we had told @bharatthakrar we'll be in touch tomorrow, sorry if you don't enjoy a cold beer, but have a relaxed one today :-).”

But the company received even more backlash, with users urging RMA to end the conversation as the damage had already been done.

@dnkariuki tweeted, “@RMAKenya @bharatthakrar you're even making it worse. I would suggest you go offline now. Starting to sound mannerless.”

The interaction on Twitter between the company and Mr Thakrar sparked a conversation on how good customer service online ought to be key in maintaining positive relations with clients.