Online forums like Facebook and Twitter are offering federal regulators and National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigators new ways to do their jobs. Direct consumer complaints on such websites are giving these investigators new leads on specific issues that they might have adequate data available on.
In June 2010, Assistant Professor Alan Abrahams and Professor Weiguo Fan commenced a large-scale case study of online discussion forums, looking at thousands of discussion boards for Honda Motor Co., Toyota Motor Corp, and Chevrolet. “Social media analytics provides low-cost, real-time insight into defect existence and severity, by vehicle component category,” said Abrahams.
With the different platforms available for the consumer, investigators and manufacturers get early warnings of issues before appearing in NHTSA complaints and other media sources. Industry leaders are able to more fully interact with their customers and listen to their complaints and suggestions to make quicker fixes.
Although social media is an outlet for the consumer to voice their opinions on different products, many brands are able to take this information and target market the consumer and make personal sales and support interactions.
Abrahams went on to say that more research would mean more rapid identification and prioritization of defects and feature requests. However, investigators are not the only individuals using social media as a platform. Law firms have taken an interest in the voices of the consumer and this could mean “higher litigation as law firms more easily and rapidly discover vehicle defects from public social media sources,” according to Abraham.
Source: Automotive News