Revving up the Customer Experience Engine

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Everybody’s heard of General Motors. The Detroit-based vehicle manufacturer includes in its portfolio domestic brands Chevy, GMC, Buick, and Cadillac, as well as eight international brands, including Opel and Vauxhall. In North America alone, the company counts a total of 4,500 dealerships that employ 45,000 salespeople and put more than 3.5 million new cars on the road per year. The company also services more than 10 million vehicles per year. Other businesses include the Maven rideshare/rental program, the ACDelco line of auto parts, and the OnStar in-car telematics system. Total revenue for the company, which was founded in 1908, topped $166.3 billion last year.

GM’s pastures weren’t always so green, though. Less than a decade ago, GM filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy, but the company has come a long way in reinventing itself since 2009. In 2016, J.D. Power listed GM at the top of its rankings for sales and service satisfaction in the automotive industry. That same year marked its third consecutive record sales year, as it recorded 10 million purchased vehicles across the globe.

Much of this improvement can be attributed to the appointment of David Mingle as head of GM’s customer experience efforts. Mingle joined GM in 2013, and since then the company has made a top-down cultural commitment to placing the customer first.

GM has also been committed to digital transformation. It has made the biggest investment in connectivity that the automotive industry has ever seen. “We have more than 12 million connected vehicles on the road,” Mingle told attendees at Pegasystems’ PegaWorld conference in early June. “That’s more than three times the rest of the industry combined, and 4.5 million of those now have 4G LTE—the same speed internet connection as you have in your home office.”

Investments in connected cars, coupled with investments in CRM technologies, have allowed GM to stay in tune with its customers, making them, in turn, more loyal. Today, GM boasts more repeat buyers than any other U.S. auto manufacturer.

Associate Editor Oren Smilansky recently sat down with Mingle to learn more about the secrets of GM’s transformation.

CRM magazine: To start, could you tell us a bit about your background and how you came to your current position at GM?

Dave Mingle: I started my career with Ford and spent a bit of time with a couple of small automotive research companies, but most recently I was with Nissan before joining GM about four and a half years ago.

At Nissan, I held a number of executive positions. The last one was chief customer manager, where we had built a customer experience team for the Americas, addressing every aspect of customer experience, including call centers, customer data, life cycle communications, lead management, etc.

What are your responsibilities now at GM?

I lead the development of our global customer experience strategy. That’s an enterprise initiative. It’s not specific to our business unit. Obviously, customer experience is something that the entire company supports, not just one business unit. But I have the lead on behalf of the company to bring all of those business units together and consolidate around a single vision for customer experience.

In addition, I have the social media command center. Just a few years ago, we had more than 100 social media listening and monitoring tools. We’ve consolidated those into a single uniform platform and are now delivering a consistent experience.

I also have our global customer satisfaction and customer understanding practice. If you think of all of our customer satisfaction surveys, that responsibility is mine globally.

In addition, we have built out a customer journey mapping and CX design principles practice, where we work not only within our own business unit, but across the company to train teams on how to use these tools and create a consistent methodology around thinking customer and what that means.

Then I have responsibility for customer on-boarding, for customer profile and ID management—think single sign-on and how to effectively on-board a customer. We also have a very large integration. We work with other business units to integrate their initiatives into our owner center, the mobile app, and into our contact centers, and if necessary to integrate with the OnStar back office.

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