VW Says “We’re Sorry” With Gift Package Valued at Over $1000.
Business is part of life, and with that comes ups and downs. At the end of the day, we are all human beings and by nature, imperfect and make mistakes. In business, a simple mistake or poor decision can affect hundreds, thousands or potentially millions of people. Minimizing damage control can be an extremely difficult undertaking, especially if you or your company was unable to proactively prevent the transmission of and correct the mistake or poor decision to employees, clients or even worse, the media.
A perfect example of this is the VW Recall, later known as the “VW Scandal”. The former CEO of VW Martin Winterkorn, had approved the decision to install software on over 480,000 “clean” diesel vehicles in the US between 2009-2015. This software only activated the cars’ pollution controls during emissions testing (while on a hoist) which prompted a world-wide recall of nearly 11 million vehicles. This was obviously a fraudulent means to pass the rigorous EPA standards in the US and will end up costing VW up to $18 billion.
Unfortunately for the sales force at VW, they had no idea this was happening behind the scenes until they literally heard it on the news before they came in to work that day. For the full story of the immediate impact on the sales force, read my interview with Aaron Hansen, Sales Manager at Cambridge Volkswagen, “How Poor CEO Decisions Impact Sales Reps: The VW Recall”.
So now, 4 months later in an attempt to say “We are sorry”, VW has provided all affected TDI owners such as myself with a compensation package. This includes a $500 credit at a VW dealership, a $500 MasterCard gift cart and 3 years of free road side assistance. Furthermore, the recall on my vehicle will be fixed at no charge or inconvenience to me.
As a loyal VW owner, I think this more than compensates for any wrong doings on their part. As I have mentioned previously, I never bought my car so that I could drink water out of my tail pipe. I bought my Passat TDI for comfort, safety and fuel economy among other reasons.
Do I accept VW’s apology?
I most certainly do. And I must say, the timing couldn’t be better, being just after Christmas and before Valentine’s day.
Will I remain a loyal VW/Audi customer?
Overall, although VW should have given their sales force a head’s up about all the negative press they were going to receive in the media and prepare them with how to handle customer inquiries and complaints, they made up for it after the fact.
In speaking with the reps at my local VW dealership, sales are back to normal.
Just goes to show that regardless of the severity of the “damage” a business succumbs to or has brought onto themselves, it is possible to recover with the implementation an aggressive damage control program.
If your business is in a similar situation, you should consult a PR expert and ideally one who specializes in your field of work.
The apology is a very powerful sales tool. Many times I’ve apologized for the wrong my company committed. Customers want to be heard and know that you own the mistake, and you will do what you can to make it right. That’s what VW is doing.
“We made a mistake. It’s our fault. We had our reasons at the time, but that doesn’t mitigate the fact that it’s our fault. I apologize. How can I make this right for you?” Many times customers will say “oh it wasn’t so bad” and will be happy again.
This also work in relationships because it dispels the anger.