Focus on Audi: How much of a brand’s PR is merely bluster?

A few of you might have been following the problems we’ve experienced during the past year or so with our Mk2 Audi TT. It’s far from ‘breaking news’, every model at some time in its life will experience a fault which calls for a recall or intervention by the brand’s after sales support.

Handled professionally, most of these are quickly resolved and in some cases the experience improves the relationship between brand and owner.

The problem, although not safety related, is certainly distressing for the increasing number of TT owners who’ve experienced it – the window regulator (the device which raises and lowers the front windows) seizes due to a frayed cable, leaving the car open to theft and the vagaries of our inclement weather.

SEE ALSO: Final Report: Audi TT 2.0 TFSi – window regulator problems solved!

Back in February 2012 we documented the steps required to fix it, and I subsequently discovered we were not alone – our posts have been viewed a little over 60,000 times since then and we receive a steady 10-12 emails and messages each month from owners in a similar position.

Yesterday, 17 months after the driver’s side window on our car failed, the passenger one followed suit, so I contacted Audi’s Customer Care team after confirming with Audi’s PR Manager that this was still the recommended course of action.

That was at 14:20 yesterday afternoon, just over 21 hours ago or roughly 0.5 business days. To provide Audi with the best opportunity to respond, I reached out to them on three channels – Twitter, email and via direct contact with their PR team and my tone throughout was calm and reasonable.

In the interests of full disclosure, I’ve been providing large global brands with customer marketing services for the past 20 years, so I’m familiar with the standards of best practice, but rather than use my own experience I got in contact with the guys from Socialbakers, one of the world’s leading providers of marketing analytics software for social networks.

They publish a list of ‘The World’s Fastest Responding Brands on Twitter’, which shows that on average, the leading brands respond to customer service enquiries in 11 minutes. This includes brands such as American Airlines, Rackspace and even the Met Office, with the same, if not more, customers than Audi.

Audi UK have gone as far as creating a dedicated @AudiUKCare twitter account, so the presumption of a timely response is ingrained into a customer’s expectations, and based on my past experience of reaching out to telecomms provider @BTcare, I would normally expect a response within the hour.

Clearly you can see where I’m going with this. In a world where service is being made ever more transparent by the internet, Audi appear to be faring very badly.

SEE ALSO: Dear Audi.. (on angrybritain.com)

In fact, to add insult to injury, yesterday Audi AG published their very first ‘Sustainability Report’. A sustainability report for those of you unfamiliar with the term, is about the continuity planning of a business, ensuring that resources which it consumes are replenished, damage to the environment is minimised and employees and society are nourished by the activities of the brand.

It’s a long-hand way of saying what Google describes as ‘Do No Evil’.

So, I’m sat here, on a rainy day, with my cherished Audi product seeping moisture into its innards, wondering what happened to that ‘Audi brand promise’ Vorsprung durch Technik?

Roughly translated it means ‘progress through technology’, but like an increasing number of customers I’m beginning to wonder if Audi’s PR diatribe is merely bluster.

Previous running reports..