Responding to a growing wave of consumer discontent with automated call centers and unresponsive dealership bureaucracy, executives at the Chrysler Motor Company will now be directly following up with customers. Doug Betts, the top corporate officer in charge of customer satisfaction, has pushed hard for this unique and strategic way to improve the brand's image. Dissatisfied customers currently express their discontent through the internet, and they use web forums or auto product liability lawsuits to amplify their message. The theory behind this customer satisfaction program is to salve consumer anger by getting out in front of problems before they “go viral” and do damage to the brand.
In the pilot weeks of the program, executives contacted more than 2,100 Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep owners. Even Bob Nardelli, Chrysler's Chairman, got in on the action.
Will the 300-plus Chrysler execs moonlighting as customer service representatives improve the image of a company that's had its brand tarnished not only by internal political problems but also by macro-trends against American carmakers? It remains to be seen, but independent analysts have generally applauded the plan as a step in the right direction towards reforming a corporate culture that has often been dismissive of the “little guy.”
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