Last December, I posted a letter to then GM CEO Rick Wagoner with some advice on how to move GM forward by being more sensitive to customer experiences, especially online. Now that Mr. Wagoner is gone, let’s take a look at GM’s progress.
Here is a review of some of my suggestions and how I might grade GM on their sensitivity to the customer experience so far …
- Hire a ‘Chief Experience Officer’: score F: as far as I can tell, Fritz Henderson, GM’s new CEO (whose profile is missing from the Inside the Company page??), has not made any moves in this direction. With new chairman Edward Whitacre from AT&T coming on board perhaps there will be some new thinking in this area. Similar to Rahm Emanuel’s logic about the government being handed an opportunity during Depression 2.0, GM has a unique opportunity in bankruptcy to create some new thinking around their approach to customer experience.
- Keep us in the loop: score C. GM has launched a new website called gmreinvention.com. I couldn’t wait to see it. It’s most prominent feature is a boring video from Ray Young, the CFO, talking in finance-speak in what I am guessing is an attempt to appeal to worried investors, creditors and suppliers. There are three main menu choices, all labeled (“OUR”) from the company’s POV: Our Mission, Our Vehicles, Our Company. At the bottom of the page are profiles of GM execs who are “contributors” to the site. One question: what about us – the customers of GM? We get a miniscule link on the right side bar for “Customer FAQs” about the “Court Filing.”
I googled the term “GM customer website” and could not find any other relevant links besides the “restructuring” website which provides updates re: the bankruptcy and an open letter from the CEO (in PDF format). BTW, very customer-friendly term that “restructuring.” After some searching you’ll discover that GM also is using its FastLane blog to keep customers informed. If you look hard enough, you can find a link for it on the reinvention home page and the restructuring page.
3. Be a good listener: score C. If you can spot the text links on the main “reinvention” site, you will find at the top (above the tabbed choices) a link for “owners.” Okay. But – it looks like the same page that was up before, it requires a log in, and appears to disregard the fact that the company is going through the worst crisis in its history. Huh? On the plus side, Henderson has done some live Web chats but why aren’t these mentioned on the main site? But, where is the website that talks directly to consumers and allows us to ask questions and get feedback from someone at GM? There are links on the main “reinvention” website for GM’s Facebook page and Twitter “blog.” But what if you don’t have or want a Facebook or Twitter account? GM should take a page from Starbucks and set up their own customer-driven idea site.
4. Do something fun that surprises people: score TBD. To be fair, GM needs more time before they can be “fun” again. But it would have been a nice surprise if GM gave us more than a slick commercial (see below), a change in their URL, and some comforting words for their investors and creditors as their core online communication strategy.
Bonus: GM’s new commercial: why are people taking trains in an auto ad?