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QUALITY: Alicia Boler-Davis, Senior vice president of global quality and customer experience, General Motors
In mid-2012, General Motors product chief Mary Barra and GM North America President Mark Reuss made an unconventional move: They combined the product quality and customer experience functions and handed oversight to a little-known plant manager.
Since then, Boler-Davis, 44, has made several moves to more quickly funnel customer feedback to GM's designers and engineers. For example, her customer-experience group took over management of GM's previously outsourced call centers to resolve customer issues faster and to help prevent future vehicle-development bugs. The quality organization implemented more rigorous reliability testing of soon-to-launch vehicles.
Early results are promising. GM finished atop J.D. Power and Associates' 2013 rankings of initial quality, the first Detroit automaker to do so in the survey's 27-year history. GM's brands also improved in Consumer Reports' closely watched reliability survey and in another J.D. Power and Associates survey that measures customer satisfaction with dealership service departments.