Word of Mouth Goes Digital

Brenda and I met in high school.  She lives in Jacksonville, Florida and I live in Seattle, Washington.  She teaches drama, I’m an entrepreneur turned professional speaker. My speech and blog topics center on  the customer experience.  Brenda and I are “friends” on Facebook.

A couple of days ago, Brenda posted a warning about Coggin Honda in Jacksonville.  She shared her experience of buying a used car from what she THOUGHT was a reputable dealer and learning within the first 48 hours the car had major mechanical issues.  The dealership was not being responsive.

It struck a chord with me because I had a similar experience 35 years ago with a now defunct dealership in Kansas City and it took a call to our local Attorney General to get resolution.  All these years later, I had the nightmare experience again reading Brenda’s saga.

Over the next day and a half, over 20 Facebook posts were made about this situation by a wide range of her digital friends.  Some just offered moral support, others suggested contacting the Better Business Bureau and the  Attorney General – even the local media!.

A few years ago, a dissatisfied customer told their family, neighbors, coworkers and friends.  Word of mouth – both negative and positive – has always been powerful.  In the digital age, the math gets downright scary!

The Facebook “friend” count of just those who specifically commented exceeds 3000!  That doesn’t even take into account those who saw but did not comment who will talk about it, those who read my blog and follow my tweets or the hundreds in my speaking audiences when this example is used to illustrate the point I have just made!

I live a long way from the offending dealership and what happened to my high school friend won’t influence my next car purchase in the least.  But what of the bulk of her digital friends?  What about her close geographic circle of friends?  What about their circle of digital contacts?  Shopping for a car is a common post topic as are all big events.  I imagine this particular customer experience will have long-lasting ripples.

All business people would be well served to learn from the mistakes of Coggin Honda. Word of mouth has always been a great business’ best ally and a bad business’ worst fear.  The digital age in which we live has just taken it to a whole new level.


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One Response to “Word of Mouth Goes Digital”

  1. Sue-Ann Says:

    I have been a loyal customer of Coggin Honda for many years. I have purchased 4 Hondas from them, but I will not purchase another Honda from them again after what happened to Brenda with her used Honda. If they cannot stand behind their product and if they cannot treat their customers any better, than I refuse to deal with them ever again.

    Thank for your help is getting out the word about a business that doesn’t seem to care for their customers.


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