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 am an experience management transformist, helping organizations improve business results by engaging the hearts and minds of their customers, employees, and partners. My "job" is Head of the Qualtrics XM Institute. The Institute is still being established, but our goal is to help organizations around the world thrive by mastering Experience Management (XM). As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. Prior to joining Qualtrics, I was managing partner of Temkin Group (leading CX research, advisory, and training firm), co-founder and chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org), and a VP at Forrester Research. I'm a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Check out my LinkedIn profile: www.linkedin.com/in/brucetemkin

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