How Tesla Uses its Top Employees to Tackle Complaints

Last year Tesla, the American automotive company, claimed the top spot in Consumer Report’s annual satisfaction survey which asked car owners to submit their opinions on leading manufacturers. In this report, 91% of current Tesla owners said that they would buy another Tesla car in the future, with many consumers wishing to support their mission to combat global warming.

As Britain is aiming to ban all petrol and diesel cars by 2040, having an electric car could soon be commonplace. Tesla was the first company to mass-produce an electric sportscar and their Model S is one of the world’s best-selling plug-in electric cars even with the hefty price tag of around £58,000 in the UK. 

However more recently, despite this impressive customer satisfaction result, the Tesla’s customer service reputation has taken a knock.

Customer Service Setback

Some customers have complained that the company’s sales and services channels are lacking compared to other luxury brands, with customer service representatives being slow to respond. As Tesla does not sell through dealerships, it is understandable that there could be less opportunity for customers to interact with an employee during the purchasing process.

In addition to this, last month it was highlighted in an article written for the Automotive News by Alain Cohen, a self-titled long-term Tesla fan, that despite buying three of the Model S luxury cars each one had many manufacturing issues. Although he said this was not enough to put him off buying a fourth, he wrote:

“I love the idea of the car -- but I’ve stopped loving the company. The fact is this: Through hubris, loss of focus, or simply ignorance of its consumer mission, Tesla has lost its way.”

Due to these issues coupled with his mounting frustration over Tesla’s lack of responsiveness, Cohen made the decision to file a lawsuit against the company citing that this was a direct result of the company’s refusal to return phone calls or answer emails.

Even though a spokesperson for Tesla stated ‘the issues that weren't fixed had to do with Cohen not bringing the vehicle to a service centre for repairs’, the story seemed to resonate with other Tesla owners with some of them taking to the Tesla Motor Club online forum to discuss their own experiences. 

This prompted a direct reply to the forum from Jon McNeill, Tesla’s President of Sales and Service, who has often been known to address customers directly online, to announce a “streamlining” of their support contacts in a bid to tackle customer complaints. In his response, he highlighted the ways to report customer issues through phone, email and social media.



Responding to forum messages may not be a practical way to contact all customers, but this direct contact from a top Tesla employee is certainly an excellent way to show the company is actively reading and noting its customer complaints. 

Escalating Issues to an Executive

Now with the launch of the Model 3, cited as their ‘affordable electric car,’ and already with an incredible back order,Tesla is ensuring that they are increasing their customer service opportunities to keep them ahead of the competition. Owners are now to have an official way to reach the decision makers at Tesla when they feel issues are not effectively responded to. By going to their ‘My Tesla’ account customers have the option to make a general support inquiry, or escalate this concern for executive review.

As with any company who puts an emphasis on the importance of customer service, it is the cases that slip through the net and get a lot of attention that can be the most damaging, even if they don’t represent the average customer experience. By implementing a method that provides customers with a way of escalating issues that they feel have not been dealt with satisfactorily, the company can aim to ensure customer complaints are highlighted and dealt with efficiently.

Tesla CEO Tweets to Customer Complaints

After the customer service streamlining announcement was made, Tesla CEO Elon Musk spent some time on Twitter replying to various customer feedback messages. One consumer asked Mr Musk to implement a future update that would allow the steering wheel to retract when parked to prevent wear. In his reply, Musk wrote:

“Good point. We will add that to all cars in one of the upcoming software releases.’  



This reply not only means that this consumer potentially has a direct impact on a future software update, which is an exciting prospect, but they were also able to reach the very head of the company with a simple online message.

It seems by opening up the channels of communication and giving customers a more efficient way to report service issues, Tesla can provide a satisfactory solution to complaints and ensure they stay at the top of the customer satisfaction lists. It is highly encouraging that their top executives, including the CEO himself, are paying attention to the needs of their clients rather than relying on the power of the product to sell itself.

Has this story inspired you to share your own consumer complaint handling enterprises? It’s time to receive the acclaim you deserve by entering the UK Complaint Handling Awards 2018. All of the details for entering the awards can be found here.