GM urges dealers to set up customer technology centers

GM urges dealers to set up customer technology centers

General Motors Co. is asking each of its 4,300 dealers to establish a customer Connection Center, similar to the Apple store’s Genius Bar, where customers can learn more about in-vehicle technology and infotainment systems.

The voluntary move for all Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac dealers comes ahead of next year’s roll out of embedded 4G LTE mobile Internet access in most 2015 GM vehicles it sells in the U.S. and Canada.

GM spokesman Klaus-Peter Martin said the Detroit automaker is just beginning to talk to dealers about the customer support initiative. A handout shown to dealers, which says the centers would help drive customer loyalty and retention, said that 94 percent of customers said there is a need for technology support and 57 percent said they were very or extremely likely to use the center.

Today’s new vehicles include many connectivity features such as Bluetooth, navigation and applications that work with infotainment systems, plus GM’s OnStar services —some of which can be confusing for customers to set up and use.

Martin said the centers will give customers and the dealers’ certified technology experts a dedicated place inside the dealership to dive into technology.

“It’s another effort on our journey to provide this overall customer experience,” he said.

Automakers, including many luxury brands, are increasingly working to enhance the customer experience with more services such as concierges, 24-hour telephone support, extra technology support from dealers and even in-home or business visits.

GM has hired 50 connected customer specialists nationally who work across the U.S., supporting dealers with training and working with customers on technology such as Cadillac User Experience (CUE), Chevrolet MyLink and Buick and GMC IntelliLink infotainment systems.

The carmaker also is requiring dealers to have at least one certified technology expert to help answer customers infotainment questions such as how to pair a cellphone to the in-car system. Martin said most GM dealers have met that goal.

Todd DeNooyer, co-owner and general manager of DeNooyer Chevrolet in Kalamazoo, says his dealership is wrapping up final touches on its Connection Center. He hopes to invite car buyers back — days or up to a month after they take delivery — to go over any questions.

“What they’re finding is there’s so much technology included in the software in the new vehicles,” DeNooyer said. “There’s a little bit of a glaze-over factor as they take delivery.”

Ryan DeNooyer, a business manager at the Chevy dealership, said the Connection Center opening Friday will include two flatscreen TVs, iPads and two big tables for customers and his six new car salespeople — all certified technology experts — to use. The TVs and iPads will show Chevy MyLink features, videos and tutorials. The center’s space will be used to help with frequent customer questions such as how to sync a phone to the MyLink system and how to set radio presets.

Some dealers say they also plan to add classes, such as what Apple offers customers at its stores.

GM has been working for the past few years to vastly improve customers’ experiences in the showroom and with the company.

Nearly half of GM’s Chevrolet dealers will have completed facility renovations by the end of the year. GM says about 85 percent of dealerships have agreed to participate in the renovation program.

mburden@detroitnews.com
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Twitter.com/MBurden_DN

From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20131031/AUTO0103/310310034#ixzz2ji30zK1z

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