Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Shifting Organizational Paradigms

A story in Automotive News this week details GM's plans to revitalize Cadillac's sales numbers by improving the experience for buyers. As the article discusses, the sales of GM's Cadillac division have been lagging for many years behind the once peerless pace they had in the late 1990s. GM is employing the help of hotel chain Ritz-Carlton's trainers to help the shield-and-crescent dealerships change their image and their customer service, and in turn boost Cadillac above competitors such as Lexus and BMW. I think that GM, even being in its lean status compared with those profitable years of the recent past, is making a good move here even if it's expensive in the short run (which it almost assuredly is), particularly as a means to differentiate the Cadillac ownership experience. Employing the aid of some of the world's top experts in customer service is practically a no-brainer here.

But what I like most about the article is the detail provided with respect to the performance rigors in place at Ritz-Carlton. The company has solid expectations of performance in place for hotel employees, they understand the meaning of customer service and a poor experience on the part of customers, and they have done the good work of determining the costs involved by not addressing service issues. As a result Ritz-Carlton knows just what it loses per day, and they can understand what this means across the wider organization. Ritz-Carlton's system sounds like a great design, and is real performance improvement at work.

As an outsider to the process, I am intrigued to see what the outcomes are from this for the Cadillac brand and for GM. This is leadership recognizing it has a problem, and making the necessary adjustments to address it.

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