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Atida Motors Case Study

My personal $.02.  Just because you asked...

Note: I read Harvard Business Review (HBR) front to back every month.  One of my favorite features is the "HBR Case Study" where HBR presents a fictional case on a business issue.  Responses are gathered from the top business minds in the world.  Problem is, I don't always agree with the responses.  My grandfather always says, "you can't complain about something that you've yet to do a thing to improve" and I agree.  So I will provide my own commentary to each month's business case.  I exercise my mind, you exercise yours.  It's mental push-ups.

December 2007 Case Study: The Customers' Revenge.

Venerable Detroit automaker Atida Motors has a new call center in Bangalore that the company hopes will raise its reputation for customer service.  But it doesn't appear to be doing so yet.  Complaints about the Andromeda XL - the hip new model Atida hopes will capture the imagination of Wall Street - are flooding the call center.  Call backlogs are building and letters of complaint are piling up.  One loyal Atida customer is so upset about getting the brush-off that he's not only talking to a lawyer but threatening to go on YouTube and take his case to the court of public opinion. 

In the internet age, does Atida need a new way to deal with unhappy customers?

My Response:
On first glance, Atida's situation looks to be replete with reasons why organizations are petrified of democratized media.  Technological connectivity + digital media + option overload = structural shift in consumer behavior.  It's a consumer playground and corporations are frightened by its implications.  But strip away the digital tools and what you get is a classic business issue. 

Fear of democratized media and fear of YouTube are symptoms of the greater problem.  And that problem is that Atida's call center is a deficient internal operation.

Atida's call center being in Bangalore - surely a move to reduce cost line expenditures - is representative of Atida's approach to customers.  Even if we assume that intermediate operational metrics such as first-call resolution rates are satisfactory, cultural and language barriers certainly have an adverse effect on customer loyalty.  Corporate training on customer loyalty is likely lacking as well with the call center operating so remotely. 

A possible resolution to this would be to move the call center back to headquarters and kick up training.  Customer loyalty up.  To mitigate cost-line risk, I'd propose automating some calls.  Decide which type of customer inquiry would be easy to automate and introduce scalable automated systems to route those inquiries.  High-tech automation reduces cost-line expense  High-touch customer service representatives increases customer loyalty. 

The action plan might look like this:

1. Categorize call center inquiries.
2. Assign potential revenue value per category.
3. Map customer experience per category.
4. Develop automated system for low-value calls.

5. Train Customer Service Representatives to manage high-value calls.

6. Assign performance metrics and compensation around the new call center model to reinforce business objectives.

In summary, this high-tech/high-touch approach maximizes resource allocation and tacit interaction value while mitigating cost-line risk.

Bada-bing, bada-boom.  That'll be fiiiiiiiiiiive dollars...

Critical Unknowns

  • First-call resolution rates
  • Forecasted cost-line trade-off
  • Fixed costs (i.e. call center facility available or to be developed?  Call center training problems in place or to be developed?)
  • Variable costs (i.e. high-value call volume in alignment with the number of CSRs?) 

Agree?  Disagree?  New take on the issue?  Post your thoughts to the comments section. 


CASE STUDY THREE: THE CUSTOMERS’ REVENGE Case Study Three: The Customers’ Revenge Cody Olszewski St. John’s University Abstract Case Study Three, The Customers’ revenge, which is provided by the Harvard Business Review, revolves around the developing situation at Atida Motors. Atida Motors is a company that specializes in automobile manufacturing. The firm has been open for over seven decades. The company was highly successful. Atida’s success was attributed to innovative styling and high performance. To sustain this momentum, Atida’s vice president of customer service, Jim McIntire, had recently introduced a new customer rewards program to encourage consumers to keep buying Atida’s products. In addition, the business also introduced credit card rewards and a new call center Bangalore, India. However, the company began to notice a massive problem, dissatisfied customers. Customers, including Jessica Long and Tom Zacharelli, have threatened to take to the airwaves to complain about recurring defects that were present in Atida’s new car,