GM Turns to Apple for Inspiration on Customer Training

General Motors (GM) is looking to companies like Apple and Best Buy for ways to improve customer training on so-called in-vehicle technology. The company is in the midst of deploying specialists to its dealers to train staff on how to train customers, and if you've ever bought a car from a dealership you'll probably find the concept novel.

GM Genius Bar

As cars get more and more touch-screen and voice-activated controls and features in their cars, many customers don't know what to do with it or how to use it.

"You see a lot of people get into the vehicle, and they can't figure out the damned system," Mark Harland, manager of GM's connected customer team, told Reuters. "They get frustrated, and they get online and bash it, and that ends up on J.D. Power and Associates."

GM wants to change that, and to do so, Mr. Harland said that car companies should be looking to Apple, which has its wildly successful Genius Bar, and Best Buy, which has won praise for its Geek Squad help desks.

Among the steps GM is taking is deploying 25 tech specialists—Reuters noted that most of them are in their 20s—to its dealers to train staff at those dealerships on how to then train their customers. Even for those dealerships where sales people or customer care staff members know how to uses in-vehicle systems themselves, knowing-how-to-use is often far different from knowing-how-to-train.

There are 4,400 dealerships in the U.S., however, which means this program is going to take time, as each specialist will have to visit 176 dealerships unless they add more.

Reuters reported that GM is opening a dedicated team at its Austin call center to answer questions about in-vehicle technology. The company is also requiring its dealerships to have a minimum of one employee who has been trained on all of GM's different systems.

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