Article by Ernan Roman Featured on CMO.com
As global director of CX strategy and enterprise experiences at General Motors, David Mingle has spent the past four years laser-focused on transforming the customer experience.
“There is a lot of friction in today’s car buying process that we need to address,” said Mingle, who has held various management positions at Nissan North America, Chrome Systems, and Ford Motor. “At the same time, customers increasingly tell us that technology is a top purchase consideration, and they want their vehicles to seamlessly integrate with the rest of their digital lives.”
Read on for what followed.
1. What did you do with that feedback? This insight fueled GM’s decision to make connectivity a strategic priority. We now have more 12 million connected vehicles on the road, and we have nearly 4 million customers using our mobile app. Both are incredible opportunities to introduce new and innovative experiences to our customers.
2. Why is this so important? Research shows that engaged customers are more loyal, less price-sensitive, and more willing to talk favorably of the brands they love. We see digital, especially mobile, and vehicle connectivity as huge opportunities to move from customer interactions centered around maintenance and repurchase cycles to providing engaging content and value-added services at every key turn. It’s a game-changer for our industry.
3. What does that look like at GM, specifically? How will this improve the customer experience? CX is still an emerging discipline for most of us. There isn’t a playbook that can tell you how to successfully innovate your customer journey. You just need to start with the basics and mature your approach over time. Develop a clear articulation of your customers’ needs and expectations. Leverage your existing surveys, social media insights, and internal or third-party studies. Don’t be surprised if you identify gaps and additional research is required.
At GM, we receive nearly half a million survey responses every month. We built a tool that flags surveys for follow-up when it identifies a low score or certain issues in the customer comments. We see meaningful uplifts in NPS and retention when successful recontact is made by our dealers or contact center advisers. This gave us a valuable early “quick win” that we could leverage in justifying further investment in our CX roadmap. And we now have a database of millions of customer surveys, giving us limitless opportunity to drive customer understanding across our organization.
We use this data and other research to map the customer journey. These maps help us identify the moments that matter most to our customers that also have high levels of customer effort or pain. These become priorities in our CX roadmaps.
As your customer understanding and journey maps mature, they will enable you to change how your company plans and solves problems. Our CEO calls it “Think Customer” and has declared it a key leadership behavior central to our ongoing success. This customer-centric mindset is driving unprecedented levels of collaboration across the many departments responsible for delivering each segment of the customer journey.
An example is our mobile app for owners. It includes features from sales, marketing, service, care, and Onstar packaged as one integrated experience, which is far easier for our customers than each business unit having their own app. That would not have happened without a common, customer-centric vision for our customers’ mobile experience.
4. How will this improve the effectiveness of marketing? Customers today expect you to know their journey, act on their feedback, and be available 24/7 on the channel of their choice. Brands that effectively leverage their customer understanding to continually simplify and personalize the customer experience will drive higher levels of loyalty, lower customer acquisition costs, and streamlined customer support.
I would say we are still in the early innings of GM’s CX transformation, but we are already seeing demonstrable results that suggest the strategy is working.
Bonus: What is your favorite activity outside of work? My wife and I have been blessed with three incredible and differently abled children. Our oldest has autism. We spend a lot of our free time advocating for adults with disabilities. [They are active board members at Dutton Farm, a program that provides vocational and life skills training for adults with autism and other disabilities.] It’s been very rewarding to get to know and support the caregivers, teachers, and others who give so much for those in need.