I wrote a little while ago that Tesla has an achilles heel. And that was customer service. Well, Tesla is showing signs of weakness here still and I'm going to show where they are faltering along with a solution.
Tesla Communication with Customers
Delays happen, you’re right about the 10,000 parts, but I think the biggest issue has been shitty communication. People have to plan around their new cars (trade ins, financing, leases ending, etc). It was good Tesla said sorry yesterday, but people are still in the dark.— Sawyer Merritt (@SawyerMerritt) August 11, 2021
Tesla has not done a good job communicating with its customers. I had a Model 3 on order and the pickup date constantly kept changing from anywhere from August, 2021 to November, 2021. There was no rhyme or reason for this, just that the date kept changing around.
I also had a customer support rep assigned to me. They were responsive to texts for the first couple weeks. For some mysterious reason, the rep just stopped responding to my texts. I asked about the delivery when it said the end of August, 2021, because that was soon and I needed to plan to sell my current vehicle if that was true. But, there was no automated response, no "I'm not feeling well", no nothing. I was ghosted, just like after a bad date. I've since cancelled my Model 3 order and am going to wait a little while to order again.
Currently, there are delays on the CyberTruck, and the Model X that are only being communicated by a customer going to the Tesla website and refreshing their account page to see what the delivery date says. There is no communication of why the delays are happening.
What Should Tesla Do?
First off, I am empathetic to why Tesla doesn't respond or communicate directly to everything. If they tried to give a reason for every little delay or problem, they would be using all their energy. And a lot of times, the reason for a delay or problem is very technical in nature and difficult to explain.
In addition to that, if Tesla regularly communicated, there would be media and other outlets who would take what is said and "twist it" in a way that would create FUD against Tesla, which would cause Tesla to need to communicate more, forming a vicious circle and no-win situation for Tesla.
Here's What I Recommend Tesla Do
For vehicles ordered, create a queue/flow system. I'm a software engineer, and this isn't difficult to do and to display a number on a web page with where you are in the queue and what stage of the flow you are in. It can be updated in real time based on supplies, shortages, etc. This would be like calling a customer support center, or going to the DMV and getting your "place in line", but with what "Step" you are on.
Right now, your place in line is a date, but I don't think that's helpful because it jumps around so much. It would be helpful to see where you are in the queue of orders for your type of vehicle along with the expected date, along with what step you are on.
The step you are on is where in the delivery flow you are for getting your vehicle ready. Dominos pizza has a nice page after you order a pizza with 5 steps, starting with preparation, to the final stage of delivery. It would be nice to know exactly when your Tesla is actually being manufactured, is having paint put on, final assembly, being shipped to the nearest Tesla delivery center, etc.
Tesla should implement a flow and break down the process of initial order to final delivery in a series of steps. It could be something as simple as this:
- Vehicle ordered
- Manufacturing has begun
- Frame complete
- Interior finished
- Electronics wired up
- Paint complete
- Shipped to delivery center near you
Right now, it's a black box, and it would be a GREAT customer experience to see where in the flow you are. Tesla could also do better at communicating broadly to customers about delays and seek feedback proactively from customers.
What do you think of Tesla's communication? Is this something Tesla can improve? Does having a flow for your vehicle order make sense?
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Jeremy Johnson is a Tesla investor and supporter. He first invested in Tesla in 2017 after years of following Elon Musk and admiring his work ethic and intelligence. Since then, he's become a Tesla bull, covering anything about Tesla he can find, while also dabbling in other electric vehicle companies. Jeremy covers Tesla developments at Torque News. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram to stay in touch and follow his Tesla news coverage on Torque News.