What’s best: Safe or sorry?

As I have now moved much closer to downtown I have now also changed my car accordingly, so two month ago I squeezed myself into a brand new city car, the Fiat Nuova Cinquecento.

(Un)fortunately the car dealer’s service department called the other day and said some part of the motor had to be replaced because there could be a problem with that part. The manufacturer must have calculated that it’s cheaper (and may be a better customer experience) to be proactive rather than being reactive and deal with the problem if it should occur with my car later.  

(Un)fortunately that’s not the way we usually do it with possible data problems. So, back to work again. Someone’s direct marketing data just crashed in the middle of a campaign.    

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5 thoughts on “What’s best: Safe or sorry?

  1. Richard Ordowich 15th June 2011 / 14:29

    Henrik, my brother bought the US version called the Fiat 500. He had driven the car in Italy and found it fun. It’s red and I call it his tomato car.
    Since Fiat (Fix it Again Tony) is trying to shed itself of the image of unreliable cars, I can see why they may have been proactive in notifying you. Obviously they had your contact information correct so they were able to notify you so that data was good in spite of the fact that that data originated from a dealer and went through many “hands”. But if they did not have the correct contact information for you what would have been the consequences?

    It is hard to tell what the longer term consequences in a case like this might be. For example does the customer feel confident in a car they just bought that has an immediate problem, even if they fix it proactively? What is the quality of the product? Is this problem just the first of many? BMW had a series of problems with their Mini Cooper when they first sold it and the problems lasted for a few years. I had a Mini and the battery went dead after 2 years. When I brought to the dealer they confirmed the battery was dead (they used sophisticated diagnostic equipment to determine that) and told me it was not under warranty “because I did not drive the car enough”. The car only had 6,000 miles on it after 2 years. Was that a product quality problem, a customer service quality problem or even a data problem? The owner’s manual does not say you have to drive the car a minimum number of miles to conform to the warranty.

    The context of the problem remains the most critical factor in determining the approach to quality. In these examples, the customer’s perception determines their measure of quality. In your case you feel the manufacture was proactive but what about their product quality? In my case the measure of quality is different. Was the product defective or their customer service quality defective?
    In the meantime enjoy the car!

    • Henrik Liliendahl Sørensen 15th June 2011 / 15:27

      Thanks for a good comment with good questions Richard. Yep, product quality is a concern. While the modern Fiat 500 goes back to 2007, the edition I have chosen is the new TwinAir with on/off turbo. New versions, new problems.

  2. Marie Haggberg 15th June 2011 / 15:49

    Reminds me of various past projects I have been called in to help with. Typically, the projects would have had tight deliverable dates and attendant (wrong) shortcuts implemented to meet the due date. Technical debt incurred had to be paid off post-delivery by addressing work-arounds, fixing the data, and calming frustrated customers.

    Thanks for a good read.

    • Henrik Liliendahl Sørensen 15th June 2011 / 16:03

      Thanks for joining Marie. Yes, too often we are too busy (or focused in) fixing old problems so we are missing preventing the new ones.

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