The Customer Revenge Case Study

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Harvard Business Review Case Study :
The Customers’ Revenge by Dan Ariely
(December 2007)

As an introduction of this case, a little recall of the facts may not harm anyone. Atida is a 70 year old motor company, producing and selling stylish and innovative cars and they have just launched a new one on the market : the Andromeda XL. The brand has many loyal customers and devoted fans among various clubs and communities. Jim MacIntire and his colleagues from the customer service department have tried to enhance their operations by implementing various methods : For instance, the company offers comprehensive warranties, a special credit card rewarding customers with presents, and a new call center was implemented a year ago in India in order to answer customers’ phone calls. Despite such improvements, customers keep complaining, sending angry letters to the customer service and customer’s satisfaction seems to fade. As light is shed on these elements, one could wonder what could Atida do to deal with the unhappy customers ?

First and for most, the company should deeply change the way it handles customers’ complaints. They are not ennemies, they have spent a lot of money on one (or several) expensive car(s), sometimes they are truly devoted to the brand and are huge fans of it; Therefore they are entitled to be treated with consideration, especially when the product keeps breaking down (as in the case of a customer named Jessica Long). Thus when Lisa explains that «She must get a life», her attitude towards customers is all wrong. Futhermore, thinking that a call-center (outsourced far away from the heart of the company and employing people that can hardly speak English) will solve all customers’ complaints, it’s a delusion. It only fosters disatisfaction.

Indeed, it seems that the company is acting submissively and passively towards its customers and thus, Atida should develop a strong and active dialogue, thanks to regular contacts with its customers...
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