Some carmakers invest millions in order to measure and increase Customer Satisfaction.
Today the manufacturers must be able to measure themselves “1-2-1″ with their Customers, with transparency: thanks to the web any single Client could become a powerful promoter or a devastating detractor.
This is one of the reasons why carmakers should be ready to confront themselves with the Social Media, the blogs and the tam-tam of the Internet!
But sometimes someone makes an own goal! This has happened to Mercedes-Benz with the types “C” and “E”, 220 & 250 Cdi versions, equipped with the new engine OM651 De22.
This is a stunning “common rail” diesel engine, among the first to mount a piezoelectric fuel injection system by Delphi. From the beginning this new motor has expressed several failures to the apparatus of the electrical power system, causing repeated breakdown of the cars… on the road.
Although unpleasant, it is understandable that new vehicles could go haywire: even the human body – evolved in 250,000 years – sometimes it breaks causing pain and worries. Imagine a car with only 100 years of history …
The technicians in Stuttgard at the beginning has decided to buffer the emergency by replacing only the single injector involved; with repeated interventions several times on the same car; with … several breakdowns.
Who has never been into trouble in a highway during the night - with children on board – may not realize the hardship, danger and anger that this entails.
But also a fault in the home garage, or along the ring road during rush hour when it’s raining and you’re late for an appointment, are not the medicine for high blood pressure …
In Italy, to the angry Customers, were given hasty explanations, as: “the Italian diesel at the gas stations has a quantity of sulfur which prevents the proper operation of the injectors” or “errors were found in contact with the power plug because the damaged injectors were disassembled several times”.
It is interesting to speak with taxi drivers or small fleet owners.
Online reputation? Someone in the Marketing or at the Customer Service - at the HQ – has underestimated the power of the web.
All the M-B enthusiastic fans in hundreds of communities, clubs and blogs all over the world, began to exchange concerns and information about their misadventures with the OM651 – which in the meantime have been added problems to the distribution chain and water pumps.
Factory tests and tests carried out “on-the-road” directly on the cars of the customers have shown that the old system of magnetic injection (Delphi) was much more reliable than the piezoelectric (although less modern, less efficient, more polluting, and more thrifty in fuel consumption).
Enough to force the german engineers to engage the reverse gear, and decide to introduce a “downgrade technology” abandoning the new piezoelectric technology on this engine.
Despite rumors on the Internet and various legal actions undertaken by customers, no recall campaign or official communication has been addressed by the Customer Service to the owners of defective vehicles.
It seems that “automatic service actions” – carried out behind his back of customer – are regularly developed: if by chance a M-B owner bring his car into a workshop for a service or a maintenance, he can be found with the whole apparatus of fuel injection replaced.
Without giving - it seems – no explanation of what really constitutes the intervention, that is, as customers told us: “replace the new piezoelectric injectors with the old magnetic ones, installation of a plant for the recovery of diesel return, replacement of the engine electronic control unit, and replacement of the acoustic cover placed over the engine”.
It is a burdensome service intervention, expensive, no doubt aimed at the safety of the customer.
Mercedes-Benz have built his reputation on perceived quality and quality of service, with a marketing refined, with a guideline which states: “when in doubt, replace”.
So why – with the OM651 case – not talk openly with their customers, preferring keep things vague - if not worse - falsehood?
The real Customer Service starts from… transparency!
M-B: please, don’t let your reputation is badmouth: Internet is… waiting in ambush!
And … DealerRater, Carfolks, Edmunds, Women-Drivers and dozen of others sites ‘watch over’ the consumers!