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May 8, 2006

A Quick GM Response Can Produce More Satisfied Blogging Customers

I've written before about the GM Fastlane blog and how Bob Lutz, Vice Chairman of General Motors does not answer every blog reader comment. Last week Bob Lutz, did answer a reader's comments in the post, "A Quick Response."

The reader nearly had a heart attack when he realized Bob had written a post in response.

"Bob, I almost had a heart attack when I saw my name mentioned in your post! Awesome. Anyway, I am so glad you are reading about all our concerns. Rest assured that I and everyone else is prodding you guys because we want you to succeed...."
".. Thanks for taking the time to respond to my concerns, its a great feeling to know that the car company we all go around trying to defend will hopefully one day never need to be defended. Take care!"

This back and forth between Bob Lutz and Steve is a great example of both the importance of responding to customer questions, and also the importance of answering questions because you clearly demonstrate to the world you are prepared to treat your customers like people. The dilemma General Motors and other high volume blog is that due to the volume of reader comments, 50 to 200 comments, it's almost impossible for a single blogger to answer all of the comments.

As we see from the response from other blog readers on the GM blog in the comment section of the post, answering your readers does have an effect on the rest of your readership. Clients often ask me about the value of blogging. I explain that it's the dialogue that occurs between a blogger and their audience that matters. A conversation may only appear to matter between the blogger and the reader as in the example of SteveG and Bob Lutz. The consequences for the GM Fastlane blog are larger than that those two people. Other customers read the discussion and are influenced, not just the content but how the discourse happens.

Posted by johncass at May 8, 2006 3:58 PM

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You make a good point about being able to use blogs to scale one conversation to many listeners.

But imagine if the company responded to _every_ comment with at least a "thanks for commenting" email just so that people knew they were listening. Plus to those people whose comments need more than that, if a thoughtful response then when out, can you imagine the positive PR and WOM that would be generated?


Posted by: Eric Mattson at May 9, 2006 4:17 AM

Your comment about emailing back a response to customers reminds me of the supermarket response to purchasing some groceries, "Have a nice day."

There's a fine line between genuine courtesy and towing the corporate line because it's required. If the response was from a human I'd say go for the email. But a robot, what happens when a customer thinks they are corresponding with a person and responds? If the company doesn't respond back, I think the customer would be upset that the connection was from a robot rather than a person.

Now if as you suggest the company is listening and does have someone on the payroll whose job is to read comments and respond, then it would work.

I think we both agree that its just a good idea to make sure a company has the resources available to be able to listen to all customers and give a response within the context of blogging.

Posted by: John Cass at May 9, 2006 8:43 AM

I think you hit on it with your last statement.

"...its just a good idea to make sure a company has the resources available to be able to listen to all customers and give a response within the context of blogging."

Keep up the good work.

Posted by: Eric at May 9, 2006 4:35 PM

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