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No Room for Complacency, Says GM CEO Barra

Maker aiming to “annihilate the opposition,” she tells Detroit leaders.

by on Oct.28, 2014

GM intends to win, proclaims CEO Barra, during a speech to Detroit business leaders.

General Motors is no longer going to act a polite competitor, GM chief executive officer Mary Barra said during an appearance before the Detroit Economic Club.

“I want to win,” Barra said. Not get by. Not hold on. Not be competitive. But win.

“I want GM to excel. To build relationships with customers for life. To be the most valued automotive company in the world,” Barra added. “If we aren’t here to win, to lead, to excel, why are we here?”

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In her speech to the leaders of the Detroit business community, Barra made it clear she wasn’t chosen to be CEO just to put a friendly face on the once-bankrupt automaker. Already having walked through fire as she has had to steer GM through an embarrassing and costly recall crisis, Barra has shaken up the maker and is clearly planning more major changes.

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Infotainment Systems are the Plague of the Auto Industry, Says Consumer Reports

Japanese makers retain lead in quality, reliability.

by on Oct.27, 2014

CR gives thumbs up to the Toyota Camry, the magazine predicting good reliability for the 2015 update.

The quality of the cars sold on the U.S. market has hit a plateau, and motorists can put the blame on new technologies – especially the infotainment systems that have become increasingly common on today’s models, according to a new study by Consumer Reports.

The influential non-profit publication likened the issue to a “reliability plague,” chief auto tester Jake Fisher noting that, if anything, the latest annual Consumer Reports Automotive Reliability study might be downplaying the problem because it reports only actual defects.

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The situation would be even worse if the study included complaints about just how difficult many infotainment systems are to operate.

“The big problem is infotainment. Take that out and (the quality of) cars would be improving,” said Fisher, during an appearance before the Detroit Automotive Press Association.

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GM Hopes to Turn Frustrated Owners into Loyal Buyers

Maker dedicates new Customer Engagement Center in Detroit.

by on Dec.09, 2013

One of the growing team of "advisors" at the new GM Customer Engagement Center.

For decades, General Motors viewed frustrated customers as a costly nuisance.  Today, the maker says, it wants to turn them into loyal owners. At least, that’s the strategy behind the new Customer Engagement Center officially opening at the GM Technical Center in the Detroit suburb of Warren, Michigan.

The facility, which will eventually employ nearly 350 “advisors” and managers, is part of a dramatic shift in the way GM wants to do business – a recognition that in today’s crowded and highly competitive automotive market it doesn’t take much to send buyers over to your competition if they aren’t treated right.

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“I don’t know if there’s anything more important than getting a customer to come back,” said Mark Reuss, president of GM’s North American automotive operations, during a tour of the new facility which consolidates earlier call centers based as far away as Buenos Aires, Argentina.

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GM Struggles to Change Perceptions

Getting out from under the shadow of “Government Motors.”

by on Oct.11, 2013

The Chevrolet Sonic has made quite a splash since its debut for 2012.

The quality of General Motors vehicles is getting better but consumers still tend to believe cars from Toyota and Honda are more reliable, according to independent research. And that’s a serious problem the Detroit maker is struggling to overcome, particularly along the East and West Coasts where GM lags well behind its import rivals.

The irony is that General Motors products have actually bested Toyota in a number of recent surveys, including the closely followed J.D. Power Initial Quality Survey. GM was the top maker in the 2013 IQS while Chevrolet landed in the Top Five, a rarified group normally limited to luxury brands. Meanwhile, the maker’s Chevy Sonic subcompact topped its segment for the second year running in Power’s APEAL, or Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout survey.

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That prompted a celebration at GM’s Orion Assembly plant in suburban Detroit this week, where Roman Lesnau, of J.D. Power Associates told employees that their work has been a critical part of improving the maker’s quality and customer satisfaction scores.

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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.”

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GM Tops Power’s Initial Quality Survey for 1st Time

High-tech problems are now car buyers’ biggest headache.

by on Jun.19, 2013

Hot Wheels...the Camaro was one of eight segment winners for GM in the 2013 IQS.

After years lagging the imports, General Motors has surged to the top of the charts in the 2013 J.D. Power Initial Quality Survey, the most influential measure of vehicle quality during the first months off the showroom lot.

The new study also reveals that, on the whole, the quality of this year’s cars, trucks and crossovers actually declined a bit from 2012 – a decline largely the result of design-related problems that, for the most part, can’t be resolved at the dealership. Issued related to the latest infotainment systems and other high-tech devices are the single largest source of these buyer headaches, according to J.D. Power.

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On the positive side, “Manufacturers are doing a lot better when it comes to engines and chasses and other mechanical systems,” explained Dave Sargent, the head of automotive research for California-based J.D. Power and Associates. “Most of the problems people are now reporting involve the latest technology.”

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GM Betting Improved Quality, Customer Service Will Yield Big Payoff on Bottom Line

A 1% customer retention gain will yield $700 million.

by on Sep.19, 2012

Customer retention is GM's next big target, says quality and service chief Alicia Boler-Davis.

Sometimes, it’s the little things that add up.  Just ask General Motors which is making a major push to improve quality and customer service in the hopes of boosting customer retention.

Right now, company officials suggest, about 52% to 53% of GM buyers can be expected to trade in for another Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac or GMC product next time around.  Simply boosting that by 1% would have a significant impact on the bottom line, however.

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“A single-point improvement in sales retention is the equivalent of 25,000 (added sales) or $700 million in annual revenue,” explained Mary Barra, GM’s global product development chief, during a discussion of the maker’s plans to enhance quality and customer satisfaction.

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