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Published on March 4th, 2016 | by Saurabh Pandey


Broken Leg & Car-Volkswagen & Bharti Axa Atyaachaar- Best Practices In Marketing & Customer Support?

Brands are all about trust. More so in India and save HLL & P&G most MNC brands in India are in serious need of building some serious trust assets. MNC car manufacturers like Volkswagen have a very low adoption share in India, there sales are peanuts compared to Maruti and maybe Hyundai. People who are buying a Volkswagen are taking a huge risk and are early adopters who have taken a bold step to buy an unverified, trust defecit, low adoption vehicle.

Volkswagen as a brand should take every step to recognise and reward the audience. Because this audience is the opinion leader and the foundation of a bigger sales volume.

Even more serious is the case of MNC insurance companies like Bharti Axa- who have negligible market share and close to neutral if not negative reputation. They have a herculean task to compete with LIC and GIC. Bharti Axa buyers need to be treated as heroes because they are risking their lives and earnings and assets without demanding too much.

Given this scenario I wanted to share with you all a case study of how some of world’s biggest brands lose out on opportunities to build trust and how badly they treat their hallmark and early adopting customers. Precisely why they are struggling with sales volumes.

My Vento car was damaged on road and on suggestion of Volkswagen I deposited the car on 5th of February 2016.

I was asked by Vento staff to submit 6-7 types of documents, including an affidavit by notary so that it will be easier for Insurance company as well as me.

After that I waited for a week to hear back from the BHARTI AXA surveyor who told us he has had a talk with Volkswagen and he is working on estimates. I asked for a written estimate so I can understand the quantum of damage. But that never came.

After a few follow ups the Bharti Axa surveyor gave us an option that BHARTI AXA can give some compensation + BHARTI AXA will invite bidders to sell the car as junk.

After further follow up he gave us an offer of INR 3 Lac + INR 1 Lac as junk value of car.

Around this stage VOLKSWAGEN BODYSHOP guys started calling and advising that I should agree to BHARTI AXA surveyor and do a deal because otherwise the car is in bad shape and irreparable + I will have to incurs INR 15-20K on parking.

BHARYI AXA guy was always ambiguous.

So far neither VOLKSWAGEN nor BHARTI AXA had given anything in written despite requests. No estimates nothing. About 17-18 days had passed

By this time it was evident that BHARTI AXA and VOLKSWAGEN Dealer/Bodyshop have some hand-in-glove association.

I called VOLKSWAGEN and sternly asked for an estimate on 26th Feb 2016 in the morning and said that I could come by evening to collect. When I reached in evening, I was told very curtly that estimates cannot be made in 1 day. I asked if that is the case please give me the estimate that you and BHARTI AXA guys jointly created at the time of survey.

Eventually on 27th FEB 2016 , I received an estimate of INR 9.48 lac from Volkswagen for repairs. I sent that estimate to BHARTI AXA guy and asked them to send me a written response to this. As per Volkswagen now the vehicle is almost irreparable and repairing it will cost as much as buying a new car.

BHARTI AXA guy promptly sent an estimate with figures culled out from Volkswagen estimate and deleting items as per is choice and his estimate stated that BHARTI AXA can only pay INR 3.44 Lac

Not only is there a huge discrepancy, but also standard processes are not being followed. I have not mentioned but Bharti Axa Surveyor-Sandeep Malhotra has been talking with a huge attitude and kept the phone down on me. It was as if he was the customer and I was the vendor!

I also complained to Volkswagen about their treating calls (about parking charges, about starting the work without my permission and about the delay in giving me any estimates or updating me about any charge such as parking during the first week itself). However- within a few hours of complaining the first call that I received was from Volkswagen Bodyshop guy who asked me why did I complain?

Look at marketing failures here:

1. Social Media Customer Support- I first complained on twitter about both BHARTI AXA and VOLKSWAGEN. However it seems that their customer care picks up the feed during working hours only. Both Brands fail to react during non- working hours or half the day.

2. Customer Support Regular- I received canned responses and emails. Nothing more. No one bothered to understand why I called.

3. Breach In Customer Support- How can a department against whom the complaint was made- call up the customer and ask why did you complain? Even in case of Bharti Axa, eventually someone from claims department called up and he was in no mood to listen but state that they will do everything as is required and update me.

4. No Customer empathy- I have a paltered leg and no personal vehicle. I had to wait in Volkswagen for my right to receive an estimate + despite having taken an appointment I was not given the estimate-rather a curt reply.Bharti Axa guys seem to have made it an ego issue and that is evident in their tone.

5. Not defending or accepting consumer right- My car’s insured value is INR 5.91 Lac. It is in irreparable condition. It is my right to demand my insured value. I am not asking for more.

6. Fleecing Customers- Not telling customer about hidden charges by Volkswagen. Trying to fleece by shortchanging by BhartiAxa

7. Feedback & Transparency- No feedback unless one incessantly calls up. No transparency nothing in written, always ambiguous.

At the end no one is paying heed towards a customer- who took risk for their brand, who talked positive while he was using the brands and when now he is injured and without a vehicle both parties Volkswagen and Bharti Axa are bothered about how to fleece and save a couple of lac rupees. If that’s not business/marketing myopia what else is?

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