Customer trust doesn’t grow overnightI wrote down his words in the interview but didn’t understand what he meant. Later, I looked up the dictionary and nodded in agreement.
When I interviewed Rolls-Royce Motor Cars CEO Torsten Muller-Otvos during his visit to Korea on September 29, he said on the customers, “They have not shopped, they have commissioned.”
He used the word “commission” to mean “give an order for.” Would it be a jump of logic to say that it showed how the CEO of the most luxurious carmaker in the world deals with the customers? According to his words, Rolls-Royce was not simply selling products, but producing what customers want.
Lately, Korea’s leading carmaker Hyundai Motor has been under fire. It is hit by a global economic slump and prolonged strike. It has lowered the sales goal from last year, but it is still hard to accomplish.
What’s more painful than sluggish sales is that the chronic trust issue has not been resolved. Hyundai announced a recall and compensation for the Hyundai Theta II engines produced in Alabama plant, but the company is not offering the same to the domestic customers. A whistleblower claimed that Hyundai-Kia did not notify domestic consumers when the Theta II engines and airbags on some models sold in Korea were defective.
As a reporter covering the automobile industry, the quality of Hyundai-Kia cars is reliable. It has been proven in multiple ways that it offers quality that suits the fifth biggest carmaker in terms of sales units. JD Powers’ research on new car qualities in June ranked Kia on top and Hyundai in third place.
The problem is its attitude towards the customers. On cars sold in Korea, Hyundai installed airbags one generation older the ones on export models. The impact bars on the back doors of domestic Avant models are smaller than those on export models. Then the company claimed that countries have different laws, and the company produces cars with different specifications for different countries.
There is a thin line between an average consumer and a fastidious customer. If Korean consumers hadn’t been choosy, Hyundai Motor wouldn’t have been able to catch up with American and European carmakers with over 100 years of history in 50 years. It is a positive sign that Hyundai decided to offer the same extended warranty on Theta II engines sold in the United States and Korea. The trust of the customers doesn’t accumulate overnight.
Industrial news reporter of the JoongAng Ilbo