This week General Motors announced that they were combining the leadership of the Product Quality and Customer Experience organizations into a single role, a first of its kind move for the auto industry. Alicia Boler-Davis will be GM’s Vice President for Global Quality and U.S. Customer Experience and her primary focus is on strengthening the experience in order to raise customer retention, which by GM’s calculation is worth $700 million for each percentage point increase. In addition to the merging of quality and customer experience, GM’s plan includes:
- Dealership renovations so that the showroom enhances customer confidence and provides a strong first impression to car buyers
- Support experts to handle the dealer and customer training required by the growing integration of technology into vehicles
- A team to proactively handle social media monitoring and response
- New programs to empower front-line sales and service personnel to resolve issues quickly
My take: I applaud GM’s combination of quality and customer experience. In My Manifesto: Great Customer Experience is Free, I describe customer experience in terms of total quality.
Why does this combination make sense? Quality efforts tend to focus on removing waste and building more consistent processes, but they often lack the deep external perspective of customer needs and desires. The push for removing waste can also squeeze out some important design considerations and overly focus on short-term savings versus longer-term loyalty gains. Customer experience efforts can fill in those gaps and benefit from quality approaches for process redesign and control.
In the 2012 Temkin Experience Ratings, Chevrolet – the only GM brand in our ratings – lead the auto dealer segment and was the only one to receive a “good” customer experience rating. So the big auto maker has a solid base to work with. We’ll keep an eye on Boler-Davis’ progress.
The bottom line: Quality and CX are two great tastes that taste great together