Object Lesson: Infiniti Autos and Marketing

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For just about three years, I’ve been a relatively happy lessee of a 2008 Infiniti FX35 Crossover. Living in NYC, it’s spent much more time in my garage than on the road, but when I needed it, it’s always been there, and always been a good car. No problems, no issues, and I’ve still got 12,000 miles left on the lease I’ve got to use before I return it in a few months.

So I was more than bummed to find an email today from my local dealership, which I shall reprint for you below in its entirety, sans the person’s phone number and email address. Bolding, grammar errors and the like, all theirs.

To: peter @shan…..com

From: Steve C…, Infiniti of Manhattan

Subject: NO SUBJECT

Hello, Mr./Ms. Peter Shankman .

My Name is Steve C… from INFINITI emailing about your 2008/INFINITI Fx35 X AWD lease… I am showing that you have 6 payments remaining on your lease I want to help you transition into your next car as smoothly as possible and avoid or minimize any fees for excessive wear and tear, glass damage, tire wear, excess mileage, or any other expenses that may be due according to the terms of the lease We have found the best step at this point is to schedule a complimentary vehicle inspection and equity review to examine which items that you may be able to take care of in advance at a cost that would be lower than the fees charged for those same items by the lease company. Additionally, we can evaluate whether or not it would make sense to get out of the car early and take advantage of any special programs that you might be entitled to on a replacement car.

If you are interested please Call me

1212 399 xxxx or shoot me an email @S….@infinitiofmanhattan.com

OK. So… Where do I even start?

First off, a few background points.

According to the website “Behind the Name,” Peter is, and has always been, a male name. I know I’ve never met a woman named “Peter,” and I can’t even imagine the creepiness factor if I did. (“Oh, Peter, you have a supple waistline!”)

If Steve at Infiniti had done even the most basic, basic, basic of homework, he would have discovered that not only am I male, but that I live (and I’m not exaggerating here,) eleven feet from the Infiniti dealership. My apartment is directly across the street from the dealership. They have my license (which, by the way, shows I’m male) and they have my address. I’m guessing Infiniti of Manhattan knows their own address, right?

See me? I’m waving to you!

So where do we begin?

A subject line would have been nice. The only reason this didn’t get ignored was because I was sitting at a cafe in Barcelona killing time, and looked at the email, as opposed to just sending it to SPAM had I not had the time. Didn’t recognize the name, and it came with “no subject.” Strikes one and two.

“Dear Mr/Mrs. Shankman”

OK, really? The most basic, hands down, 100% easiest rule of customer service and retention is to, if nothing else, know the sex of your customer. This is like, third grade. 99% of the time you can figure out the name from looking at it. The other 1%? Take half a second and look up my record. I’m already a customer! You have my info! Strike three.

Bolding specific terms in the email tells me one of two things: 1) You’re cutting and pasting, and 2) you’re cutting and pasting into a form letter. Strike four.

Note the lack of punctuation: “according to the terms of the lease We…” – Really? If you’re cutting and pasting a form letter, do you think you could at least take the time to make sure that the part that gets used in every single email has correct spelling and grammar? Come on. Strike five.

You notice he ends the email with his phone number and email. No goodbye, no “looking forward to speaking with you,” nothing. Just his phone number and email. The email is also proceeded by an @ sign, so my email client didn’t pick it up as a clickable link. “Call” in “call me” is capitalized for some reason. Strike six.

Had Steve done any homework, he could have put “Hey, you’re across the street – I can meet you at your garage and check out the car if it’s easier. But no. Not even a “Hope to hear from you.” Nothing – Just a phone number and email. That’s like me having several drinks with you at a bar then picking my stuff up and walking out, no goodbye, no hug, and expecting you to want to see me again. Strike seven.

So here’s the thing – I’m not blaming Steve. Why? Because he probably doesn’t know better. Why? Because Infiniti of Manhattan never taught him better. I’m blaming Infiniti for this abortion of customer retention. Really, Infiniti of Manhattan? If you want to get me to stay on as a customer, or probably more importantly to you, turn my lease in early so you can get me into a new car, you can start by doing the most generic of customer relations. Know the most basic things about me. Like I live across the street. Like I’m a male. It also wouldn’t hurt to know punctuation, and proper greetings and salutations. This isn’t Steve’s fault. This is Infiniti of Manhattan’s fault.

The irony is, yesterday, I tweeted that I was going to write this post, and got an almost immediate response from Infiniti on their Twitter account. So it’s obvious that Infiniti has the basics of marketing down, at least from a social aspect. Infiniti of Manhattan? Not so much. And by “so much,” I mean “at all.”

When it becomes all about selling the car, and not at all about basic common sense, it makes selling the car that much harder. Infiniti should know better. As should we all.

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