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GM Using Social Media and More to Fix Recalled Vehicles

December 02, 2014

Saying GM has had a very bad couple of years in terms of recalls is an understatement. There were 29 separate cases resulting in 13.8 million cars and trucks being recalled in the U.S. alone, with the faulty switches that resulted in multiple deaths grabbing a large share of the headlines. According to Kenneth Feinberg, the lawyer hired by General Motors to compensate victims of crashes caused by faulty ignition switches, he has determined 32 people died as a result of the defect, which will require multi-million dollar settlements to the victims’ families. The longer the company waits to fix this particular problem, the higher the chances of someone else possibly losing their life. This has led the company to be more creative in getting customers with the affected vehicles to come in to dealerships and have them fixed.

According to USA Today, only 55.7 percent of owners have had their vehicles fixed as of Nov. 20, which leaves 833,633 still on the road, endangering themselves and other commuters.

Although initially customers flooded GM dealerships when the recall was announced, the numbers have decreased dramatically, forcing the company to find alternative options after letters and emails failed to do the job. This includes reaching customers using Facebook, online Roku games as well as offering $25 gift cards if they come in by Jan. 1.

General Motors has revved up its PR machine by working overtime to get this episode in its rearview mirror and move forward. The company appointed a new CEO in Mary Bara, and hired Jeff Eller, a high profile crisis communications expert who was director of media affairs in the Clinton White House, to make this possible. However, it is still facing an uphill battle as new revelations have come to light about the exact time the company new about the faulty ignition switches.

At the end of the day this is about numbers, and as reported on USA Today, Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety said, “It's a lot cheaper and better to give $25 to a million consumers to get a recall done than to pay a $25 million judgment on a recalled vehicle that killed a consumer because it wasn't fixed.”

Using social media can help organizations get in touch with their customers in the event of a recall or other emergencies, but companies must make a concerted effort to encourage them to provide this information. By offering the right incentives when customers first purchase a product or service, companies can obtain emails, social media accounts, mobile numbers and other contact information.

Megan Stooke, general director of global marketing services for General Motors, said the company is, “Really dialing up our efforts to reach them.” Granted, many of the defective vehicles were manufactured before social media became part of the landscape, but GM can now learn from this experience by using social media and other technologies by taking a proactive stance in contacting their customers if and when another recall takes place. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle