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GM Engineers Get Firsthand Dealership Experience


chevy corvette
2015 Chevrolet Corvette

DETROIT--Jan. 31, 2014: Engineers behind the Chevrolet Corvette, Cadillac CTS, GMC Sierra and Buick Enclave are learning on dealership sales floors and in service bays what customers like and dislike about the cars and trucks they helped create.

So far, the General Motors’ Professional Development Assignment has dispatched 90 engineers nationwide to meet with field service engineers, dealership sales managers and aftersales service technicians with many more to follow this year.

Their goals: identify opportunities for making better cars and trucks and improving customer satisfaction.

“The engineers who have experienced this program have initiated or enhanced product improvements already underway,” said Mark Reuss, GM executive vice president of Global Product Development, Purchasing & Supply Chain. “They are acting as change agents for their departments, and their lessons fuel the customer-centric culture at GM.”

Launched last year, the program sends engineers selected by their group leaders on a month-long tour of Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick, GMC and competitor dealerships in major markets from Connecticut to California. At each dealership, the engineers shadow sales and service personnel and meet with customers.

“This program has taught me how important our dealers are to our customers,” said Michael Bailey, Corvette chassis systems engineer. “It gives me new perspective on what I do every day, like things I need to put more focus on that can help our dealers and improve the customer experience.”

After the dealer visits, the engineers go to Walt Disney World, where they study behind the scenes to learn how the world’s No. 1 resort destination conducts customer relations and earns its high marks for customer satisfaction.

PDA program participants have shared some 2,000 observations so far. Actionable findings go to product development, manufacturing, marketing and other functions capable of making specific changes such as:

Handling service information and creating better communication between design, service engineering and brand quality to simplify dealer service and maintenance procedures while making documentation more accurate. Balancing product simplification and customer choice while reducing the number of service parts. Designing vehicle infotainment systems with alternate interfaces that still provide the connectivity and flexibility in Chevrolet MyLink, Buick/GMC IntelliLink and Cadillac CUE systems

“As a whole, the program enables our engineers to really understand what our customers want and what goes into selling a car,” said John Calabrese, GM vice president of Global Vehicle Engineering. “Ultimately, this experience will enable us to design, build and sell even better vehicles.”