SEATTLE -- Consumers are changing how they look for information, and that could force Nissan North America Inc. to move operators out of phone banks and onto the Internet.
"Currently, our social media staff can handle the volume of questions and problems that are showing up on Web sites," said Erich Marx, Nissan's director of marketing communications, responsible for social media. But he believes the number of people asking questions on Nissan's Facebook page or venting about a complaint could double over the next year. "We will need to rethink the staffing that we have."
That could mean shifting some employees out of Nissan's traditional consumer affairs operations, including its multiple toll-free call centers, so they can monitor sites such as Facebook and the Web pages for Nissan's individual nameplates. No changes have been proposed yet.
"People are less inclined to pick up a telephone and call you for information. They don't want to wait. They don't want to be told that an operator will be with you shortly," Marx said during a vehicle-launch event in Seattle. "They just want to send you an e-mail. Or they send you a text, or they post something on Facebook."
Nissan's small social media group tries to resolve beefs or straighten out confusion without interfering with dealer relations. It also attempts to involve Nissan's consumer affairs staff in problems.
"There are new issues involved in this," Marx said. "When a customer posts a problem on our Facebook page, our 260,000 fans see it. We have to handle it well.
"As a policy, we never remove a negative post. And we never ask a customer to go back and post anything after we've resolved the problem. But when they decide on their own to do that, that's a great message for those 260,000 fans to see."