Eric Mayne's Blog

Chrysler's Gorlier Rewriting Book on Customer Service

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Pietro Gorlier and I are waiting for lunch at a Detroit-area roadhouse.

We are deep in conversation. Gorlier has just finished saying he will use every trick in the book -- and more -- to improve the customer experience at Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram dealers.

That's when our bubbly waitress suddenly appears tableside and interrupts the president and CEO of MOPAR service, parts and customer care.

"My name is Julia," she says. "I don’t think I told you that, OK?”

Graciously, Gorlier smiles and thanks her. After she leaves, he chuckles knowingly. Because she was just going by "the book," the notorious, iron-clad repository of protocols that has snuffed out the American service industry's creative spark.

In a desperate bid to guarantee consistent, high-quality service, employers have developed rigid procedures to which employees must adhere. Without fail.

Sadly, this has spawned a generation of workers who have forgotten how to think on their feet.

"They are perfect in the procedure," Gorlier says. "But try to order something like, ‘I want this dish, but without the garlic.’"

Impossible. Because it's not "in ‘the book,'" he adds.

Variation may be the enemy on the shop floor. But the shop floor is not the showroom floor. Or even the warehouse floor.

So Gorlier is preaching empowerment.

“You need to be reliable and consistent in creating the right experience with a very rigid process," he says. "But then you need also to train the people to work around the problems and the issues."

To this end, Gorlier wants some 80% of Chrysler's dealer network to offer service on Saturdays. He also wants to proliferate while-you-wait "Express Lane" oil changes. All within three years.

Clearly, this is a new chapter in the corporate saga that is Chrysler.

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