R For Recession, R for Recall?

Styling, features, norms, efficiency;  yes, its always been about trying to be as good as the international car makers. But recalls?! Since when did it become important to match them step by step in recalls!

If it was the ‘R for Recession’ last year, there seems to be a faint possibility of an ‘R for Recall’ this time round. After Toyota and Honda called back multiple cars for a variety of issues, the bug has bitten India’s most loved car brand, Maruti.

The A Star has been recalled and its creating quite a lot of news . And what are the people saying? Well they are saying lots of things. Lets take a look at some of them –

Tweets –

mspraveen Now, Maruti Suzuki recalls A-Star. What’s wrong w/ you, automakers?! I told you to do more of computer simulation studies.

thapzzz after Toyota its Maruti A-Star….whos next????

tomypaul: After Toyota nd Honda,Now India’s Largest car maker Maruti is recalling its small car A-Star after a fuel leakage issue http://bit.ly/bpuwLE

They are also tweeting – imwhitebear Popular indian A Star Hatchbacks recalled RT@RandDMagazineMaruti Suzuki recalling 100,000 India-made cars http://bit.ly/d8TF9i

srinivasan_m maruti recalls 1 lakh A-stars. Is it going the direction of honda/toyota?

These are just few which i picked up from a single page of tweets in the ever growing rant about the recall from twitter users across the globe. You would say “So what? How many Indians are on twitter in any case? And even if they say something, who’s listening?”

There’s not much of a problem right now, considering internet penetration in India is low right now. But as time progresses and this number multiplies, these denting messages could transform into potential danger. We all know and believe that bad news travels fast(er)(like i had to wait for a debacle to just start off with this blog) and there practically is nothing one can do to completely prevent it(other than making cars with no defects).

What adds to the problem is that people like to just know the gist, the headline “Maruti Recalls Cars!”. What? Who? How? Not many are bothered about the details. Facts like a) Maruti has proactively recalled the cars b) there have not been any customer complaints so far c) the fuel pump gasket will be changed free-of-charge for customers remain just a fact in the second/third paragraphs of news items filed by various agencies.

So what should Maruti ideally do? Well they should the spread good word, talk positive and possibly get a few retweets favouring them or at best explaining the situation better.

Maruti happens to be doing a good job on facebook with some explanations on their Maruti A Star group .  Best part is that it was on time, with the announcements coming in just a few hours after the report was flashed all over.

Facebook

Marutisuzuki Astar

Marutisuzuki Astar What are the parts that will be replaced?
Maruti will replace fuel pump gaskets and O-rings. The parts will be replaced for absolutely free of charge

Now the problem some companies make at times is not realize the importance of being present not just at every medium, but also at every important platform of the same medium. While their facebook group takes care of some fans and enthusiasts of the A Star, twitter and possibly other websites take a beating. What must be realized is that you cannot ignore any members from the audience. Social Media is growing and it is growing at a fast pace. The brand, the company may not be out there talking to everyone, but people are discussing you behind your back. And in this fast moving world where things change with the microsecond, a rumour, a news, a thought can trigger chain reactions of magnitude one can’t even imagine.

So Maruti is not really to be blamed for what it is doing right now, but this must come as a wake up call to all brands, big and small to realise and tap the potential of social media not just in times of averting crisis but to build healthy relations with practically everyone.

The distances are narrowing, the medium is changing, the world is up and active, while you keep thinking that it is sleeping.