RJ says communication needs to be better... But what's the plan?

RforRivian

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In RJ's email on Friday he mentioned that "we need to do a better job at communicating specifics around deliveries." However, as he went on he failed to mention how things are going to change. Based on this and the fact that he only mentioned comms regarding "specifics around deliveries" it makes me think that we will see little to know change in how often we here about product information or feature details. This was the most upsetting part of that email to me by far since he seems to think it's a big enough issue to acknowledge in a personal email to customers, yet at the same time fails to state what will change or even that plans are being made to implement change.

I will refrain from ranting further because that isn't helping anyone... Instead I think we can take some steps as part of the customer base to let Rivian know in a respectful and productive way what we want to see. I spoke to customer service and let them know what I want to see between now and September as far as communication and new information. The person I spoke to said that it is helpful for them to know what the customers want so that they can push for that information to be released. They claim that the Off-Road upgrade was made optional due to customer feedback... Well how about weekly production updates or information releases because that's what customers want?

I am in no way suggesting that we call and demand information or chat in just to say how bad comms have been. However, I don't think that asking how they plan to improve comms and giving feedback if they don't have an answer to that question is a bad thing. If you have the time and think it's worth your trouble then I would suggest contacting CS and maybe just saying something along the lines of "I know y'all said that comms need to improve... Here's what I'd like to see." Keep in mind that telling them you want to see specific features and information (like EPA numbers, drive mode info, UI walkthrough) released probably won't change the way communication is handled in the long run. I'm thinking that the suggestions should be more general. Below are some things that come to mind that might have a more significant impact leading up to production.

  • Weekly production updates from RJ
  • Deep dives on info they've already released (think home charger details, frunk details, rear seat leg room being shown)
  • Pictures of different color and tire combos as the come off the line
  • An actual schedule letting us know what info will be released and when
  • Allow CS to say why they can't release certain info yet (we're still testing X, or we are finalized details with our supplier on Y) rather than saying the dreaded "S" word
These are some of my thoughts and I'd be interested to see what the rest of you think and what ideas you'd like to see implemented to start changing things. Overall I'd say the pre-order community is pretty understanding when given an explanation. I think that at a minimum, just setting expectations would go along way.





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skyote

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I agree @RforRivian . I'm sure there are specifics they need or want to keep closer to the vest, but there is a tremendous opportunity for more transparency with the preorder community.

Better explanation, regular comms cadence, and reasonable expectations would be HUGE.
 

cohall

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Agreed 100%. As I mentioned in one of the other threads, I found it somewhat comical (and somewhat depressing) that RJ stated how bad their communication has been, and then goes ahead and ends his email with Rivian standard: More info SOON, with no real details or plan provided.

It's clear to me that they simply don't have a functioning comms team, and apparently no real plan to remedy the situation. Still holding out hope that the other areas of the Rivian operation are being executed in a more professional manner.
 

skyote

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It's clear to me that they simply don't have a functioning comms team, and apparently no real plan to remedy the situation.
They have the staff, and they appear to be qualified & competent...I'm really starting to believe that they are "handcuffed" for some reason.
 

kanundrum

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In RJ's email on Friday he mentioned that "we need to do a better job at communicating specifics around deliveries." However, as he went on he failed to mention how things are going to change. Based on this and the fact that he only mentioned comms regarding "specifics around deliveries" it makes me think that we will see little to know change in how often we here about product information or feature details. This was the most upsetting part of that email to me by far since he seems to think it's a big enough issue to acknowledge in a personal email to customers, yet at the same time fails to state what will change or even that plans are being made to implement change.

I will refrain from ranting further because that isn't helping anyone... Instead I think we can take some steps as part of the customer base to let Rivian know in a respectful and productive way what we want to see. I spoke to customer service and let them know what I want to see between now and September as far as communication and new information. The person I spoke to said that it is helpful for them to know what the customers want so that they can push for that information to be released. They claim that the Off-Road upgrade was made optional due to customer feedback... Well how about weekly production updates or information releases because that's what customers want?

I am in no way suggesting that we call and demand information or chat in just to say how bad comms have been. However, I don't think that asking how they plan to improve comms and giving feedback if they don't have an answer to that question is a bad thing. If you have the time and think it's worth your trouble then I would suggest contacting CS and maybe just saying something along the lines of "I know y'all said that comms need to improve... Here's what I'd like to see." Keep in mind that telling them you want to see specific features and information (like EPA numbers, drive mode info, UI walkthrough) released probably won't change the way communication is handled in the long run. I'm thinking that the suggestions should be more general. Below are some things that come to mind that might have a more significant impact leading up to production.

  • Weekly production updates from RJ
  • Deep dives on info they've already released (think home charger details, frunk details, rear seat leg room being shown)
  • Pictures of different color tire combos as the come off the line
  • An actual schedule letting us know what info will be released and when
  • Allow CS to say why they can't release certain info yet (we're still testing X, or we are finalized details with our supplier on Y) rather than saying the dreaded "S" word
These are some of my thoughts and I'd be interested to see what the rest of you think and what ideas you'd like to see implemented to start changing things. Overall I'd say the pre-order community is pretty understanding when given an explanation. I think that at a minimum, just setting expectations would go along way.

That would all make too much sense, honestly it is just poor project planning regardless of supply chain issues they seem to behind on their entire rollout so while they say September unless we see weekly updates to their entire site that has all this information I won't believe anything until its displayed online.
 

cohall

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They have the staff, and they appear to be qualified & competent...I'm really starting to believe that they are "handcuffed" for some reason.
Debatable. A competent comms team would have never let that RJ email go out with the now trite "more to come in the following weeks" paragraph, right below the acknowledgement of how bad they've been historically.

A competent comms team would have also followed up a day or two after the RJ letter with a quick email that says "RJ told us to do better, you want us to do better, so we're going to do better. Here's what you can expect from us in terms of communication going forward." They don't need to share any actual new info right away, so the handcuffing is irrelevant. Just sharing a plan indicates that they aren't completely tone deaf to what they're hearing from consumers and the boss.

But alas, here we find ourselves.
 

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Debatable. A competent comms team would have never let that RJ email go out with the now trite "more to come in the following weeks" paragraph, right below the acknowledgement of how bad they've been historically.

A competent comms team would have also followed up a day or two after the RJ letter with a quick email that says "RJ told us to do better, you want us to do better, so we're going to do better. Here's what you can expect from us in terms of communication going forward." They don't need to share any actual new info right away, so the handcuffing is irrelevant. Just sharing a plan indicates that they aren't completely tone deaf to what they're hearing from consumers and the boss.

But alas, here we find ourselves.
THIS!

In Total agreement here, I am not in PR but that is Basic101 stuff right there.
 
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RforRivian

RforRivian

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If anyone chooses to talk to CS about this I'd be interested to know if you had a similar experience to my conversation (a rep that is willing to listen and says that suggestions are helpful). Also, any thoughts on additional suggestions that I might have missed?
 

MurryR1T

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If anyone chooses to talk to CS about this I'd be interested to know if you had a similar experience to my conversation (a rep that is willing to listen and says that suggestions are helpful). Also, any thoughts on additional suggestions that I might have missed?
Yep, I got pretty much the same thing... but I have to be honest, it feels hollow.

I'm similar to kanundrum, until I see it it's just lip service.
 

kylealden

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Debatable. A competent comms team would have never let that RJ email go out with the now trite "more to come in the following weeks" paragraph, right below the acknowledgement of how bad they've been historically.
I have spent most of my professional life working closely with comms departments and PR agencies, most of which would counsel you to end your email exactly like that ("more soon.")

In fact, the least "PR/Comms" like part of his email is where he admitted a need to improve. Admit no fault ("don't break into jail") and promise no specifics are pretty much the two commandments of public relations. If anything I think the worst gaps in the current comms strategy smell a lot more like "listened too much to a conservative PR team" than "where's the PR team?!"

That said, I think the items OP suggested are a great start, especially a more regular content calendar and deep-dives into things the are presumably locked but more or less unexamined (like real-world photos of paint, what "winch ready" means, basic UI walkthrough, interior photos/videos of things like the storage drawers and under-bench, etc.).

I'm not expecting miracles in terms of production updates and a public schedule of future content, since the former could easily contain material trade secret or competitive info and the latter walks the line of "breaking into jail" if when timelines unpredictably shift.

Dreaming, but if I were on the comms team I'd push for something like a monthly YouTube/Reddit community call or AMA where they can field questions and give an update on what they've been up to (maybe RJ for a kickoff and various product owners for each instance, e.g. the infotainment team or materials team or what have you). Enough latitude for some thoughtful self-censorship where appropriate but still a great way to demonstrate a pulse to the community and avoid long spells of radio silence.

(Side note: Folks need to cut CS and Guides some slack on all of this. They are not and should not be a way for unreleased info to become public, and the more time we spend punishing them for that, the less pleasant it will be for good people to work at Rivian, and the less time they'll have to spend helping new customers learn about the vehicles.)
 

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I have spent most of my professional life working closely with comms departments and PR agencies, most of which would counsel you to end your email exactly like that ("more soon.")
This is why sometimes leaders need to lead. If your counsel is telling you:

"It's ok to give a date for when you'll start delivering one of the most complicated machines to make, and it's ok to admit that communications haven't been up to par in the past.

But there's no way we're going to let you tell your customers when you might send the next email! That's just going too far."

That's when good leaders apply common sense and make the right decision for the company, and stop relying on counsel.
 

kanundrum

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Would have been a great time for a nice live stream/communication email saying watch XYZ we will have a special blue origin edition etc.

It was all televised so nothing to hide Id assume they could have had a stream dude on the ground showing people getting in and out or at the very least official pictures of the vehicle before the launch not interfering with any launch logistics saying Keep an Eye out on tomorrows launch.
 

irish26

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Would have been a great time for a nice live stream/communication email saying watch XYZ we will have a special blue origin edition etc.

It was all televised so nothing to hide Id assume they could have had a stream dude on the ground showing people getting in and out or at the very least official pictures of the vehicle before the launch not interfering with any launch logistics saying Keep an Eye out on tomorrows launch.
They do have one. It looks like this

EE1dQ9YXUAA8Slg.jpeg
 

hola29

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Well, their communication is not going to get you the car faster. I think this list is pretty absurd. Does Apple do that? How about any other car manufacturer? How about a pharmaceutical company? How about a sports team w/ player injuries, trading, drafts, etc?

They set dates, missed it because of production issues with a v1.0 car, in a v1.0 company, in an extremely new industry of EV's, during a pandemic, and now an unprecedented global multi-industry supply chain meltdown.

Am I disappointed? Yes. Would I have like my vehicle in late 2020? Yes. Did I know going into this that I am on the bleeding edge of the bleeding edge? Yes. Is $1000 a sum I worry about? No. If another EV comes out that interests me and I need to drop another $1000 as a hedge would I? Yes.

It seems like a lot of folks on this forum don't really have a grasp of what they are involved in and perhaps should just buy from an established auto manufacturer. This is not that, and it surprises me folks here do not realize it. Yes, I have worked for and with startups my entire career so some of this is just experience and expectations tempered by that, but I think Rivian is doing fairly well....
 

Diddy123

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Well, their communication is not going to get you the car faster. I think this list is pretty absurd. Does Apple do that? How about any other car manufacturer? How about a pharmaceutical company? How about a sports team w/ player injuries, trading, drafts, etc?

They set dates, missed it because of production issues with a v1.0 car, in a v1.0 company, in an extremely new industry of EV's, during a pandemic, and now an unprecedented global multi-industry supply chain meltdown.

Am I disappointed? Yes. Would I have like my vehicle in late 2020? Yes. Did I know going into this that I am on the bleeding edge of the bleeding edge? Yes. Is $1000 a sum I worry about? No. If another EV comes out that interests me and I need to drop another $1000 as a hedge would I? Yes.

It seems like a lot of folks on this forum don't really have a grasp of what they are involved in and perhaps should just buy from an established auto manufacturer. This is not that, and it surprises me folks here do not realize it. Yes, I have worked for and with startups my entire career so some of this is just experience and expectations tempered by that, but I think Rivian is doing fairly well....
You're conflating two different concerns into a single retort. The OP was very specific about asking what the plan is following RJ's comments regarding better communication, and presented some ideas for what that could look like.

Does Apple do that? How about any other car manufacturer? How about a pharmaceutical company? How about a sports team w/ player injuries, trading, drafts, etc?
None of these examples are relevant to the discussion. In order:
-Apple doesn't take $1000 deposits on reservations years in advance of production. But they do provide very detailed specs on their products, and allow hands-on reviews before allowing consumers to preorder.
-I've never pre-ordered pharmaceuticals for delivery, nor paid $80,000 for a pill
-No idea how to respond to the sports team analogy, it just doesn't make any sense to me

It seems like a lot of folks on this forum don't really have a grasp of what they are involved in and perhaps should just buy from an established auto manufacturer. This is not that, and it surprises me folks here do not realize it
I'll give the benefit of the doubt to almost everyone on this forum. The vast majority of us know exactly what we're involved in. That doesn't mean we can't discuss ways for Rivian to improve communication.
 
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