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GM Quality Chief Gets Bigger, Global Role

Boler-Davis takes on overseas and customer satisfaction duties.

by on Jun.26, 2013

GM's quality and service chief Alicia Boler-Davis wants to use the "voice of the customer" to both solve current problems and prevent issues on future models.

A week after landing at the top of the closely watched J.D. Power Initial Quality Survey – for the first time ever — General Motors has elevated the role of its top quality official.

Alicia Boler-Davis is being promoted to senior vice president, Global Quality and Global Customer Experience, expanding her customer experience role from a U.S. position to oversee the rest of GM’s global empire, CEO Dan Akerson announced during a speech to GM employees on Wednesday morning.

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“Alicia Boler-Davis is a proven leader whose diverse experiences in manufacturing, product development and customer experience give her a unique insight into customer expectations,” said Chairman and CEO Akerson. “She will lead a companywide, global approach to infusing the voice of the customer into everything we do.”

The Impala helped propel Chevrolet to the Top 5 in the JD Power Initial Quality Survey.

General Motors has traditional lagged well behind key competitors, domestic and foreign, in quality surveys, a painful fact that has cost it countless sales over the decades.  While the Detroit maker has made notable improvements in recent years, the 2013 Power IQS results took even some GM executives by surprise.

Notably, while the top-performing brands are normally in the luxury segment of the market, Chevrolet and GMC both made it into the Top 5, alongside Porsche, Lexus and Infiniti, something Power auto research chief David Sargent described as “phenomenal.”

Sargent also noted, “GM (also) gets more individual model awards than anyone else by a wide margin, eight out 26 when no one else gets more than three.”

(For more on the 2013 JD Power Initial Quality Survey results, Click Here.)

There are a wide variety of reasons why GM has been gaining in the quality charts – even as cross-town rival Ford has slipped sharply. That includes the decision to appoint a corporate quality guru, company officials have suggested, with the authority to actually fix problems.

The expansion of Boler-Davis’ responsibilities to include the global customer experience continues GM’s efforts to transform itself into a customer-centric organization. The maker claims it is committed to providing the best overall customer experience in the automotive industry. In her new role, effective July 1, Boler-Davis will now report directly to CEO Akerson. She will also be a member of GM’s Executive Operations Committee, meaning quality control now gets a direct voice when it comes to key product and manufacturing decisions.

The move is only the latest in which Akerson has gradually expanded the authority of executives reporting directly to him to include global responsibility. Earlier this week, Alan Batey was given global responsibility for the Chevrolet brand and new global authority also has been delegated to other executives in charge of areas such as the Cadillac brand and information technology.

(Batey named Chevy’s worldwide brand czar. Click Here for that story.)

Akerson visited the GM Technical Center in Warren with Boler-Davis to celebrate the company’s strong showing the in J.D. Power survey. The two executives noted GM has several initiatives underway to improve the overall customer experience, including the most substantial dealer renovation in GM’s history. Showroom upgrades in the U.S. are expected to cost more than $3 billion.

The automaker also is revamping its call center by turning them into so-called Customer Engagement Centers, staffed with advisors with the authority to resolve most issues on the spot.

Before being named to her quality post, Boler-Davis served as plant manager of the Orion Assembly and Pontiac Stamping plants in Michigan. Boler-Davis joined GM in 1994 and has served in various engineering and manufacturing leadership positions.

Paul A. Eisenstein contributed to this report.

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One Response to “GM Quality Chief Gets Bigger, Global Role”

  1. Jorge M. says:

    Time will tell if this is just PR and lip service or something of substance.