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Ford allegedly bans customer for negative survey responses

Ford seems to have taken the customer survey to an all-new extreme: banning a customer for leaving negative feedback. Is this a new trend?

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Careful speaking ill of this Ford dealership

Customers hope that a car manufacturer demands nothing less than the best from their product. Safety and quality should be paramount for something you risk your life using every day. Customer do not expect, however, this same “perfection” from a survey.

Ford is unfortunately unfamiliar with how a customer survey is supposed to work. Normally, you take a survey, give your honest responses, and it is supposed to help praise those doing excellent work, or help in those areas needing improvement.

Shopper “no longer welcome” at dealership

This is not the case with a survey from Ford. The Consumerist reported receiving an email from a reader stating he was “no longer welcome” at that dealership, due to his survey responses. Seriously.

The reader, Robert, stated he submitted an honest survey after a bad experience buying a Ford truck. He explained in the comments the bad rating was due to a salesman’s poor people skills. After contacting the dealership for another potential purchase a year later, he received an email stating: “Since that survey actually cost myself and the dealership money from Ford, I will have to personally pass on your offer. I’ll go brush up on my people skills and I hope you find what you’re looking for in the future.”

Granted, in this world, there are always going to be customers who are unhappy, regardless of what you do and this should not penalize the employee. However, on the other hand, when you experience poor customer service, you should be able to let (in this case) the dealership and the company know what happened. Obviously in this case, the salesman was not fired, but rather than attempt to show he had improved his skills and was ready to try and help this customer again, he sends a snarky email back.

Some things are beyond the pale

I think this is ridiculous. You have to know, especially in sales, some customers are going to be difficult, unpleasant, and not happy with anything you do for them. Rather than squash the relationship, this salesman should have forwarded the email to his manager, stating the customer couldn’t have been too unhappy if he’s willing to come back along with a message to the customer stating he’d be happy to try this again. Selling a $40,000 truck seems a lot more lucrative than a snarky email.

With all the tools on the market to improve customer retention, it seems beyond ridiculous that Ford decided to ban this customer’s business. While we do not have all the facts, perhaps a different sales associate could have handled his case, one with excellent people skills; then, if the customer was still displeased, I could understand asking them to take their business elsewhere.

I cannot imagine how you learn about where your business is falling short without reviews. Blocking malicious, profanity-ridden review, I understand, but feedback on a survey card seems a bit much. Which begs the question: would you ban a customer who left a negative review?

What does this say about customer service on the whole, though? Are people purposefully leaving poor reviews as a form of revenge? If so, what measures should be in place to ensure the employee isn’t penalized for a disgruntled customer?

#BadReviews

Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Tina Merritt

    October 6, 2015 at 8:27 am

    I think car dealerships are the worst when t comes to these surveys! A few years ago, my husband and I had a very poor experience at a Jeep dealership. From the day we left with our new vehicle, we were harassed by the dealership telling us to be sure to “give them a 5 star rating” when we received our survey. We did not give them a 5 star rating and they were none too pleased about it. They didn’t seem to care about our experience, just that we didn’t give them the 5 stars. Needless to say, we didn’t even bring the vehicle back to that dealership for maintenance, for real of retaliation. Perhaps it’s the home office bullying the dealerships to get these ratings and in return, the dealerships bully the consumers?

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Keep your company’s operations lean by following these proven strategies

(BUSINESS) Keeping your operations lean means more than saving money, it means accomplishing more in less time.

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The past two years have been challenging, not just economically, but also politically and socially as well. While it would be nice to think that things are looking up, in reality, the problems never end. Taking a minimalist approach to your business, AKA keeping it lean, can help you weather the future to be more successful.

Here are some tips to help you trim the fat without putting profits above people.

Automate processes

Artificial intelligence frees up human resources. AI can manage many routine elements of your business, giving your team time to focus on important tasks that can’t be delegated to machines. This challenges your top performers to function at higher levels, which can only benefit your business.

Consider remote working

Whether you rent or own your property, it’s expensive to keep an office open. As we learned in the pandemic, many jobs can be done just as effectively from home as the workplace. Going remote can save you money, even if you help your team outfit their home office for safety and efficiency.

In today’s world, many are opting to completely shutter office doors, but you may be able to save money by using less space or renting out some of your office space.

Review your systems to find the fat

As your business grows (or downsizes), your systems need to change to fit how you work. Are there places where you can save money? If you’re ordering more, you may be able to ask vendors for discounts. Look for ways to bring down costs.

Talk to your team about where their workflow suffers and find solutions. An annual review through your budget with an eye on saving money can help you find those wasted dollars.

Find the balance

Operating lean doesn’t mean just saving money. It can also mean that you look at your time when deciding to pay for services. The point is to be as efficient as possible with your resources and systems, while maintaining customer service and safety. When you operate in a lean way, it sets your business up for success.

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How to apply to be on a Board of Directors

(BUSINESS) What do you need to think about and explore if you want to apply for a Board of Directors? Here’s a quick rundown of what, why, and when.

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What?
What does a Board of Directors do? Investopedia explains “A board of directors (B of D) is an elected group of individuals that represent shareholders. The board is a governing body that typically meets at regular intervals to set policies for corporate management and oversight. Every public company must have a board of directors. Some private and nonprofit organizations also have a board of directors.”

Why?
It is time to have a diverse representation of thoughts, values and insights from intelligently minded people that can give you the intel you need to move forward – as they don’t have quite the same vested interests as you.

We have become the nation that works like a machine. Day in and day out we are consumed by our work (and have easy access to it with our smartphones). We do volunteer and participate in extra-curricular activities, but it’s possible that many of us have never understood or considered joining a Board of Directors. There’s a new wave of Gen Xers and Millennials that have plenty of years of life and work experience + insights that this might be the time to resurrect (or invigorate) interest.

Harvard Business Review shared a great article about identifying the FIVE key areas you would want to consider growing your knowledge if you want to join a board:

1. Financial – You need to be able to speak in numbers.
2. Strategic – You want to be able to speak to how to be strategic even if you know the numbers.
3. Relational – This is where communication is key – understanding what you want to share with others and what they are sharing with you. This is very different than being on the Operational side of things.
4. Role – You must be able to be clear and add value in your time allotted – and know where you especially add value from your skills, experiences and strengths.
5. Cultural – You must contribute the feeling that Executives can come forward to seek advice even if things aren’t going well and create that culture of collaboration.

As Charlotte Valeur, a Danish-born former investment banker who has chaired three international companies and now leads the UK’s Institute of Directors, says, “We need to help new participants from under-represented groups to develop the confidence of working on boards and to come to know that” – while boardroom capital does take effort to build – “this is not rocket science.

When?
NOW! The time is now for all of us to get involved in helping to create a brighter future for organizations and businesses that we care about (including if they are our own business – you may want to create a Board of Directors).

The Harvard Business Review gave great explanations of the need to diversify those that have been on the Boards to continue to strive to better represent our population as a whole. Are you ready to take on this challenge? We need you.

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Business News

Average age of successful startup founders is 45, but stop stereotyping

(BUSINESS) Our culture glorifies (yet condemns?) startup founders as rich 20-somethings in hoodies, but some are a totally different type.

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There’s a common misconception that startups are riddled with semi-nerdy, 20-something white dudes who do nothing but sip Nitro Brews and walk around the open office showing off the hoodie they wore yesterday. It turns out that it’s extremely rare that startup offices resemble The Social Network.

However, the academic backdrop for the real social network story (AKA Harvard), produced statistics that will serve to put the aforementioned misconception to rest. According to the Harvard Business Review, the average age of people who founded the highest-growth startups is 45. Say what?! A full-fledged adult?!

In fact, aside from the age category of 60 and over, ages 29 and younger were the smallest group of founders that are responsible for heading the highest-growth startups. I guess you can accomplish a lot when you’re not riding around the office on a scooter all day.

The study also found that older entrepreneurs are more likely to succeed. The probability of extreme startup success rises with age, at least until the late 50s. It was found that work experience plays an important role.

Many will argue, “Well, what about someone like Steve Jobs?” You could easily argue right back that it took Jobs until the age of 52 to create Apple’s most profitable product – the iPhone.

The study continues to answer questions like, why do Venture Capitalist investors bet on young founders? This goes back to the misconception at the start, and there’s a notion that youth is the key for successful entrepreneurship. Wrong.

There is also the idea that younger entrepreneurs are likely working with less financial options, so it may be common for them to take something from a VC at a lower price. As a result, they could be viewed as more of a bargain than older founders.

“The next step for researchers is to explore what exactly explains the advantage of middle-aged founders,” writes Pierre Azoulay, et al. “For example, is it due to greater access to financial resources, deeper social networks, or certain forms of experience? In the meantime, it appears that advancing age is a powerful feature, not a bug, for starting the most successful firms.”

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