The US Auto Industry Needs More Customer Focus

Given the current struggles in the auto industry, I revisited at a post called GMs customer experience woes. It referenced an article written by HBS professor John Quelch that outlined eight reasons why GM failed as a marketer. The number one item on his list was GM’s focus on products, not customers. For regular readers of this blog, you’ll recognize that this directly conflicts with the first principle of Experience-Based Differentiation: Obsess about customer needs, not product features.

The post also referenced some data from the 2008 American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). I examined the data again and developed this chart which shows how US car brands rate in terms of their customer satisfaction and the change in satisfaction levels between 2007 and 2008.

2008autosatisfaction_small

Some things pop out quickly on this chart:

  • The top four brands are all foreign; and three of them are from Japan.
  • The bottom five brands are all American; and three of them are from Chrysler.
  • GM owns the top three US brands; and four out of the top five US brands.
  • Saturn is the top US brand; and it is also the brand that improved the most since last year.
  • Eleven brands improved over 2007; and only four of them were from the US.
  • Seven brands declined from 2007; and six of them were from the US.

The bottom line: The US needs a more customer-centric car industry.

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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