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December 18, 2007

Do We Listen To You?

… is anybody listening to me??

I read an interesting thread on TY where a guy is asking if we ‘hear’ their conversations happening on-line and others wondering: ‘do they (Yamaha) listen to us’?
I have touched on this subject before and I think the timing is ripe to revisit. How do we handle market information or input from customers regarding their complaints?

Before I comment let me give a little background. When we first introduced the idea of SledTalk, we performed a ‘risk management‘ exercise and held meetings to determine what kind of fall-out could arise from such an open, public forum. Put yourself in the position of a corporate ‘watchdog’ in any big company and consider for a moment the litigious climate in which we must do business. If one is deemed ‘aware‘ then it can be construed (right or wrong) one is ‘negligent‘ for any ‘inaction‘ after the fact, regardless of circumstance. Enter the internet and the overwhelming stream of information now available. How should companies recognize and react to the online chatter? Safest thing to do; is do nothing. Do not participate, do not acknowledge, do not discuss. And that is precisely the reaction you will see from most companies.

Are there people on the inside (all the OE’s) lurking on forums and blogs? Absolutely. Do they take conversations from the internet into the boardrooms? You bet. Do they react to everything that cowboy_on_computer.gifgets posted? Of course not. The fact is there’s almost as much ‘mis-information‘ on-line as there is good information. What I like the most about sites such as Totallyamaha, HCS and Dootalk is the ‘early indicators‘ and ‘customer reactions‘ I get from monitoring some conversations. Do I read them all? No way, there’s far too much and I don’t get paid to spend all day surfing but I do ‘share the love‘ when I read something I think is important, I’ll leave it at that.

So how do we separate the ‘wheat from the chaff ‘? It’s pretty simple actually…

We rely upon our dealers to report to us after investigating, inspecting and collecting all your information including conditions, mileage, VIN numbers and a detailed analysis of a failure or complaint. We have TSM’s (technical service managers) who take the information provided to them by our dealers then develop and forward MI’s (market information reports) to our office, which are standardized collection templates designed by our factory service division. The data is gathered by our technical service division. Once they determine a problem exists, they forward to factory service who review it along with warranty claim histories and field testing results. Next; service will meet with engineering, to confirm everything and finally, if required they will issue the order to develop a CM or ‘counter measure‘. This all must happen before we even start working on the solution.

Obviously the time required can be extensive and presents a big challenge for a fast response. Often a dealer will ‘first hear‘ of an issue and doesn’t alert service until a second or third complaint is received. The TSM may also go through the ‘first heard’ syndrome’, especially if the 411 is weak. Many days can pass before it becomes clear we even have a common problem.

Often we will find some issues only exist in certain regions or under specific conditions only effecting a certain percentage of owners. Other times we discover a problem effects many but it is not necessarily perceived by everyone as being an issue at all.

Once we determine something is not right, it has to be investigated to discover exactly why. Sample parts need to be collected and shipped through the distributors to Japan. If the part is manufactured by an outside vendor, they need to be brought in and given opportunity to inspect. All this takes more time and when a snowmobile season lasts less than two months in some areas, well it can get a little tense for all involved.

We are trying to streamline the process and I hope we can alter the system to where we can at least acknowledge certain issues before we have the final counter-measure issued. Currently we cannot say anything until all the above processes have taken place, with the counter-measures developed and discussed with distributor. And the required updated parts are ordered, the shipping date to dealers is established and the planets have all aligned.

Meanwhile with all this quietly happening behind closed doors, the subject conversation on the internet continues. Emotions flare, perceptions change and for every positive suggestion comes an arguably negative one until we finally issue our solution.

The best thing you can do when something is not right with your new sled is contact your dealer and be prepared to give them as much detailed information as you can. It doesn’t hurt to ask them if they intend to contact their service rep if they don’t have a solution or ‘first heard’ of the problem. If you take it to the internet (and trust me on this one), give concise, detailed information under a clear subject line and hold back the language of frustration; the chances of me or someone else in the loop reading it are pretty darned good and you will be heard. I should also recognize the many forum mods and VIP’s who spend a lot of their time trying to help less experienced people shedding light on areas of concern, they also tend to respond better towards well worded questions and sincerely stated POV’s…

So yes, we listen and in the end we always react to take care of our customers.

Cheers cr

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Posted @ 3:02 pm in Opinions and Insights,Yamaha People and Communication   

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15 Responses to “Do We Listen To You?”

  1. Bakemono says:

    I think anyone would have to be pretty foolish to think that the OEM dont read what gets posted on forums. For them, its basically free market research. They can see the problems that owners are having and can come up with fixes to those problems.
    You are so right when you say that there is a lot of misinformation on forums. Last year I bought an ’06 YZ 250F. I started going on Thumpertalk a lot to learn as much as I could about the bike and after reading lots of posts about people who blew up the motor on their 250F, it really spooked me and actually spooked me so bad that I ended up selling the bike out of fear of the maintenance costs. Only later, after spending more time on dirtbike forums did I come to realize that the vast majority of people have very few problems with their 250Fs and that most of the time when there is a catastrophic failure, it can be traced back to operator abuse, a lack of proper maintenance or a combination of both.
    Forums can be a great source of info, but you have to learn to take everything with a grain of salt and learn how to distinguish the good info from the BS.

    Excellent advice, thanks B-mono … cheers cr

  2. Billey100 says:

    I can’t tell you how nice is it to read something like this from someone who actually is telling the truth. I am a new FX Nytro RTX owner and my first Yamaha. It’s nice to know the process of how all this works and that someone is out there! Thanks for the blog!


    Thanks Billey, with any luck you won’t be needing any help, but if it comes to that, we got your back…hope you enjoy your RTX cheers cr

  3. FastJoyRide says:

    After reading in an earlier SledTalk article that Yamaha was trying to improve the extreme cold-starts for my wife’s model of sled (Phazer Mountain Lite), I took it to my local dealer this Fall. He did a total of 4 recall updates, only 1 of which I was even aware existed! This included what I understand is a brand-new mountain specific ECU to help the extreme cold-starts (this stuff isn’t cheap kids!) We leave tomorrow for our sledding trip to BC and Yellowstone so I’ll have a good idea of how well the fixes work in a couple of weeks.

    My other Yamaha is an FJR1300 sport-touring bike and I can tell you that the Gen 2 bikes released starting in MY2006 responded DIRECTLY to virtually every issue that we Gen 1 owners had raised on the various FJR forums. MamaYama is most definitely watching and listening…

    I own other brands of both bikes and sleds too and have to give Yamaha top props for trying to follow their customer feedback and improve the breed. Must be very entertaining trying to sort through all of that chaff though!

    Thanks FJR (hey did I just crack your handle?? ๐Ÿ˜› ) Looks like you’ll have lots of snow to play in, hope the sleds meet your satisfaction … cheers cr

  4. Yellowknife says:

    So very true.

    When I first started on Dootalk and purchased one of BRP’s SDI’s, I had nothing but problems. I was one of those morons who complained and whined louder on the site about my issues more than I provided details about the issues themselves…there was so much frustration and emotion that it covered up the details of the problem at hand. I learned the hard way that doesn’t work. The most important thing in this process especially if you are a rider who buys new sleds every couple of years (and first year production models at that) is to have patience. You need lots of it, and you have to become a great communicator for your own benefit, whether that’s online or with the dealers, otherwise you end up wasting your own time and become even more frustrated.

    It sure is a long process indeed to cover issues and find solutions. If there were ever the change that a manufacturer COULD say “hey, we know, and we agree, and we’re working on it but it’s gonna take a year” it may pi$$ some off in the short term because hey, it’s going to take so long to fix when the problem has been admitted to – but I think it would kill all of the escalating shouting and yelling that goes on, which goes from my ‘my machine is junk’ all the way to ‘the manufacturer doesn’t care’. Definitely a touchy area, but coming back to communication, I still think the more – the better.

    Thanks YK, I also believe a simple acknowledgment can prevent a ton of frustration and help buy the required time. It is something we need to understand internally on many levels (we’re working on it!) cheers cr

  5. Yellowknife says:

    Can we edit our own posts? Mine is filled with spelling errors lol

    What spelleng errors?… you got Skudoo right ๐Ÿ˜› cr

  6. Stephen Burdick says:


    I agree with having the dealer be the first line of contact. I recently moved from NH to WA and when I did, I left a great customer/dealership relationship behind. My new dealer, whom I purchased a brand new 2008 FXNytro MTX from, is not as willing to comunicate or inform the customer of the happenings.

    I took my phazers (2 of them) in and the service manager was not able or willing to even let me know what work was going to be performed or what items were going to be adjusted or fixed. She continues to down play and not answer questions or address concerns. When I had an issue and I asked her to contact Yamaha directly, she told me that is not what dealers do, they handle the issues in house.

    I am concerned for my relationship with this dealer, and am also concerned Yamaha will not get reliable data from this area of WA due to her possible inabilities to work with people.

    Customers need multiple ways to log issues and seek advice. The internet is seeming to be my only choice at this point.


    Steve Burdick

    Sorry to hear this Steve, the Phazer update info is certainly available to dealers. It sounds like the individual you are dealing with may be somewhat out of the loop, which certainly could happen if she maintains the notion that dealers don’t work closely with us and they ‘handle all issues in-house’. Hopefully you can develop a decent working relationship. It’s tougher with you coming from a dealership where you were well known, respected and taken care of. cr

  7. Scott says:

    Great post! Between my dealer, the TY forum and what I read in your blog, I feel very informed as a Yamaha snowmachine owner.

  8. Erik says:

    GOD JUL!!!

    (merry christmas in swedish!!)

  9. Ike says:

    Hyvรครค Joulua ja Onnellista Uutta Vuotta 2008!

    (merry christmas and a happy new year 2008 in finnish)


  10. Justin says:

    I too am a new Nytro RTX owner, and it too is my first yamaha. I have had issues with keeping the skis down, and getting it to turn, but no issues with the hand warmers and “wet left boot” like some have. These “issues” I’m having have to do with set up, and have nothing to do with yamaha, just me not dialing in the sled right.

    I guess my point is That the communication from yamaha has been excellent. From what I’ve heard, you’re aware of some of the issues some nytro owners have, and are working on it. The best thing we can do as consumers is to give you information needed for you to fix the problem, after all, you don’t magically KNOW what the issues are. I thank you for your communication with this blog, and in every other way. Please keep it up and strive, as always, to improve it as we the consumer must strive to do the same.

    To make a long story short (too late!), thank you from a first time yamaha owner.

  11. Ernie says:

    between ty my own research and a pretty good dealer relationship I couldn’t be happier with my apex.

  12. BV1 says:

    Nice read, very informative and encouraging. And good idea with this blog ๐Ÿ™‚


  13. Gavin Conacher says:

    I agree. My brother and I have each bought new 2008 Nytros (mine the RTX and his the MTX). We both have icing tunnels, both have wet left feet, both have slow handlebar warmers and he has a special problem. His machine has missfired since new, he has had it into the dealer twice for new plugs, wires, coil and still missfiring when warm. It would be really nice if we could all grow up a bit and speak tranparently about real issues of concern for dedicated Yamaha owners.


  14. Sled Dog says:


    Happy New year even though it is late. I was wondering if Yamaha is going to come out with a 2009 Nytro with a stock 136″ track?

    I really can’t say what we’re marketing next season but you may find some insight by reading my post ‘Careful What You Ask For… cheers cr

  15. interbred says:

    I would like to begin by introducing my self and saying hello,as this is my first posting on this website. i have briefly read some of the site rules and topics and apologize in advance if I offend anyone.

    I have been snowmobiling in northern Canada for the last 26 years, 24 on one yammy or another. 300kms from closest dealership.
    in 1997 I bought a 600 venture, with smart carbs, eventually changed to 1.25″ track, better skis and installed a primer.

    I could start it in -40 degrees Celsius. I put a lot of HARD miles on it, in various snow conditions and terrain but it would always cold START.

    Decided on going 4 stroke,bought a 2007 phazer mountain, Very fun sled when breaking trails etc, when it starts. colder than -30, forget about it, get good at pulling your battery out to recharge.

    One of my sons bought a rage rs, I loved the pull of the four stroke and know it is fairly fast and dependable as hell when running. doesn’t do well starting on extremely cold mornings either.

    Purchased a viper xtx this fall.
    great stock torque
    WAAAAAY better torque with turbo
    Love it…. but …hasn’t started a couple of times already when cold. Turns over good just wont fire, low voltage code eventually comes up.

    I am worried they still have cold starting issues. once they are running, they are dependable. Not good if you cant start in the cold around here….

    This is not the ‘first heard’ regarding cold start issues. I will bring your comments up to our engineers again this spring when we meet in Japan to discuss our future. Thanks for posting (and playing by the rules). There is nothing offensive about honest, well presented, constructive feedback. Thanks!! cheers cr

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