Customer satisfaction speaks to what we believe as a company. Customers trust GM brands, operations and dealers around the world to provide them with quality products that will help them keep their families safe. We understand that this trust is easy to lose and difficult to regain. Today, we believe we are more focused on this responsibility than at any other time in our history. The goal is to satisfy our customers to a level where they are not only loyal to our brands and products, but also recommend them to others.
Everything we do across the enterprise is about aspiring to deliver the highest possible levels of product quality. Our brands, products and services aim at achieving benchmarks in studies measuring quality and consumer satisfaction. Accordingly, our focus on product quality aligns the entire company with the goal of exceeding customer expectations and providing customers with the best overall experience.
This total focus on the customer defines how we develop, engineer and manufacture our vehicles with quality and durability goals in mind, starting with the vehicle development process. We harness customer feedback from global markets to help shape our customers' product experience, using our GM Compass customer survey to gather preferences on a variety of issues—from performance and efficiency to how people interact with their vehicles. We also are continually refining our vehicle development processes to help deliver products our customers want that meet their expectations for quality, safety and performance. The latest version of our Global Vehicle Development Process was released in 2016 and included additional explicit steps to improve safety and quality assurance.
Our Global Vehicle Development Process is essential for manufacturing vehicles that are defect free.
The Global Vehicle Development Process is rooted in a cultural commitment that strives to produce defect-free vehicles. Building upon GM’s foundational “Who We Are” and “How We Behave” foundational statements, employees in this area are committed to a goal of delivering defect-free vehicles as a value supported by key initiatives and behaviors. This commitment is supported by three elements:
Each element is interdependent, enterprise-wide and designed to be sustained over the long term to facilitate the learning, practice and perfecting that are required to achieve a defect free culture.
All manufacturing operations that require ISO 9000 certification—a set of international standards on quality management and quality assurance—are certified. Globally, we are currently transitioning to the new ISO 9001:2015 standard, which is aligned with the most recent trends. Currently, 44 operations have completed the transition, and we expect that all will be certified to this new standard by September 2018. Our powertrain, stamping and component operations are held to an even higher standard, ISO/IATF 16949. 18 facilities are certified to this level. We also have an internal quality standard, the Global Manufacturing System (GMS), that is even more rigorous than external standards. And initiatives such as improving supplier launches and GMS are a key part of our strategy.
Initial quality has evolved as a measure of issues that customers may experience with their vehicles in the first months of ownership. In recent years, user-friendly infotainment systems, seat comfort, knob and handle placement and other features have replaced component failures as top quality issues. The key metric for GM to measure initial quality is 12 Months in Service Incidents Per Thousand Vehicles (12 MIS IPTV). Initiatives such as improving supplier launches and GMS are a key part of our strategy.
It’s also important to understand that quality today goes beyond reliability to encompass often intangible experiences. This is why we are taking more scientific approaches to translate customer input and feedback into technical requirements that define the overall driving experience. Consider, for example, the sound of an engine start or transmission shift; the feel of buttons when pushed; or the sound doors make when closing. Such quality attributes often can be difficult for customers to describe and quantify. New advanced tools and approaches, such as Human Vehicle Integration, help to translate customers’ requirements into technical specifications and, ultimately, vehicle designs.
GM’s commitment to quality extends to our dealerships.
The implementation of updated tools and programs is helping GM employees around the world react better and faster to the needs of our customers. For example, our Global Product Development organization has completed the highest level of Design for Six Sigma training, a process that focuses on customer issues and solutions. We also have migrated all of our plants around the world to the highest GMS levels with the goal of shipping defect-free products. Operational Excellence has been implemented across the enterprise as a proven, system-wide and data-driven approach to confronting business issues and identifying lasting solutions.
The goal of these and other programs is to take action as early as possible in the vehicle development and manufacturing process to promote excellence at product launch. This “quality across the enterprise” approach drives behaviors and actions throughout the company to result in brands, products and services that meet or exceed the expectations of our customers.
Our commitment to quality and customer satisfaction extends to the experience customers have when they visit our dealerships. It is essential that we maintain a consistent level of sales and service excellence to earn and maintain customer trust. Two elements of quality management systems help us achieve this consistency. We use Standards for Excellence (SFE) to measure dealers and Essential Brand Elements (EBE) to update and measure dealerships on the achievement of brand standards relating to the quality and effectiveness of dealers’ interaction with customers. The variable compensation of each dealership depends on the level of achievement under the SFE and EBE programs.
We provide both technical and nontechnical training and tools to dealerships to help them meet or exceed their customers' expectations. This training includes modules for sales, finance, front office and management staff; apps for sales and service; and various reference documents such as FAQ documents. Different departments in the dealership relating to sales, as well as service, must maintain a certain level of training performance by meeting technical and nontechnical criteria. For example, to be able to self-authorize warranty claims, a dealer must maintain 100 percent training for technicians at all times.
Our GM Internal Audit Staff ensures dealer compliance by auditing all dealerships on a rotating basis. Dealers are required to achieve third-party Automotive Service Excellence certification of their facilities, an industry standard and a customer-recognized seal of quality. Furthermore, while ISO 9000 certification is not mandatory, many dealers are ISO 9000 certified.
We recognize that overall customer satisfaction is a function of both quality products and customer interactions to create a distinctive customer experience. This requires having a 360-degree view of our customers that enables us to recognize, understand and serve them best.
We make great efforts to make sure that our customers can share their concerns with us at any time. Our Customer Assistance Center is integrated with our U.S. dealer network, field organization, technical and parts assistance, engineering, product quality teams and OnStar and Roadside teams. Any GM employee or customer can easily report a concern or comment through the Center’s website, email address or phone hotline, where our dedicated team works to quickly incorporate feedback and resolve concerns.
We measure customer satisfaction progress primarily through the Net Promoter Score, which is an important key performance indicator that gauges how likely a customer is to recommend our products. Every customer also receives a dealer assessment, the Customer Satisfaction Index, that asks for feedback on both their sales and service experience at dealerships. In addition to our internal metrics, we monitor third-party measures of customer satisfaction and quality to gauge our progress.
Regardless of whether we are using an internal or external measure of success, we are gratified to see progress, but will be satisfied only when we are exceeding the expectations of each and every GM customer.