Three Customer Service Lessons from the GM Recall

John Krautzel
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Customer service is becoming increasingly important as customers gain buying power with improved economic conditions. The recent announcement of yet another GM recall reflects more than just the quality control problems of a single company. The actions of GM present an opportunity for you to learn how to improve customer service at your company.

The most recent GM recall has a seemingly small impact on consumers and the company's reputation. The recall affects only 500 GM SUVs that have been found to have a faulty airbag control. The recall itself is not unusual for the industry. The problem is that the recall is becoming the standard for GM, not the exception. In fact, this is the 30th GM recall so far this year.

One of the most important lessons that can be learned from the latest GM recall is the importance of a high standard of quality. Customer service is not simply interacting with customers; it's also the experience you provide a customer with. Whether your company manufactures printers or vehicles, the product must function properly and be reliable or your company will develop a bad reputation. A reputation for producing low-quality products can have severe consequences for sales, as is the case for GM. According to a J.D. Power and Associates report, GM sales dropped by 6.3 percent in April 2014. Although your job may not involve decision making, you can provide consistent, high-quality service that improves customer service and your employer's reputation.

The GM recall also reflects the importance of addressing and fixing problems as they come up. In 2005, long before the most recent chain of GM recalls, engineers noticed a problem with the ignition switch on Chevrolet Cobalts and suggested the head of the key be redesigned to fix the problem. The fix was ultimately deemed too expensive. Several years later, GM handed out key inserts in an attempt to avoid more problems. Still, the problem persisted and resulted in several recalls, multi-million dollar fines and numerous lawsuits.

Although the company you work for may not manufacture a product or offer a service that could potentially result in loss of life – as is the case for auto manufacturers – it is still important to fix problems, not just address them. If you notice a policy or procedure that can be improved upon, inform your supervisors to improve the customer's experience.

Lastly, the GM recall reinforces the importance of putting yourself in the customer's position. GM has reacted to the most recent recall by offering customers affected by the recall replacement vehicles until their vehicles are inspected or repaired. Every company and every customer service representative makes a mistake at some point that affects the customer. Make it right by going out of your way to eliminate any inconvenience the customer experiences as a result. Take steps to Improve customer service by putting yourself in the customer's position to find an appropriate solution.

Above all else, it is important to remember that customer service extends beyond interactions with customers. Customer service can be anything from maintaining accurate customer files to identifying a problem with a product. The GM recall shows that it is important to fix problems, maintain a high level of quality and empathize with the customer.


(Photo courtesy of (Stockimages)/


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