GM’s Customer Experience Woes

I read an interesting blog post about the leadership mistakes in the auto industry. It discusses the adversarial relationship between workers and management in the industry. There’s no surprise that the US auto makers are having such a hard time meeting consumers’ needs, given the 4th rule of customer experience: Unengaged Employees Don’t Create Engaged Customers.

According to the 2008 American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), foreign car makers own the four highest customer satisfaction scores.  Interestingly, GM owns the top three US brands (Saturn, Cadillac, and Buick). So I took a closer look at the ACSI scores for all of the GM brands over the last five years:

Customer Satisfaction Of GM Brands (Data Source: The ACSI)

It turns out that Saturn is not only one of the top GM brands, but it also made the largest improvement over 2007. As a matter of fact, it was the most improved of any car brand. Even with this surge in satisfaction, GM is considering shutting down Saturn. This is just another sign that GM is out of touch with consumers. Even GM admits that it is out of touch.

In a post called How General Motors Violated Your Trust, Harvard Business School professor John Quelch outlines eight reasons why GM failed as a marketer.  The number one item on his list is: Focus on products, not customers. GM has become so out of touch with consumers that it is heading in the opposite direction of the first principle of Experience-Based Differentiation: Obsess about customer needs, not product features.

The bottom line: No company is big enough to ignore customer experience.

Written by 

I'm an experience (XM) management catalyst; helping organizations improve results by engaging the hearts and minds of their employees, customers, and partners. I enjoy researching and speaking about leading-edge XM topics. I lead the Qualtrics XM Institute, which is the world's best job. We're igniting a global community of XM Professionals who are inspired and empowered to radically improve the human experience. To achieve this goal, my team focuses on thought leadership, training, and community building. My work is driven by a set of fundamental beliefs: 1) Everything starts and ends with human beings, so you need to understand how people think, feel, and behave; 2) XM is a discipline that needs to be woven throughout an organization's entire operating fabric; and 3) Building the XM discipline requires a combination of culture, competency, and technology.

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