NASHVILLE -- Nissan North America Inc., unsatisfied with its customer satisfaction scores, plans major changes in the way it handles customers.
For starters, Nissan will drop at least six of its seven North American call center vendors. It will award its entire business -- from customer marketing calls to finance inquiries to dealer technician calls -- to a single vendor. The company is at least a month away from picking that vendor, said Dave Mingle, Nissan's senior director for customer management.
"We're not as good at that experience at Nissan as we should be," Mingle said. "If you've seen any of the J.D. Power reports on customer satisfaction, you know we have an opportunity to improve."
Late last year, Mingle was named to oversee an internal campaign to improve customer management. Nissan Motor Co. CEO Carlos Ghosn made improved customer-handling a goal in his most recent global business plan, under the premise that more satisfied customers will translate into a more profitable company.
Nissan and Infiniti ranked below average on the J.D. Power and Associates 2010 Customer Service Index Study. Nissan ranked 19th among mass market brands, scoring 731 points on the index, below the industry average of 758 points. Infiniti ranked 12th among luxury brands, scoring 784, compared with the segment average of 813, according to Power.
"If we're going to set the bar higher for our dealers, who are the primary point of contact for most of our customers, then we need to have our internal house pretty clean as well," Mingle told Automotive News.
Mingle reports directly to Brian Carolin, Nissan North America's senior vice president for sales and marketing. That structure means Mingle will be pushing change through the company independently of Nissan's divisions and subsidiaries. The resulting customer-handling and call center changes will affect Nissan's captive finance company, retail brands and parts and service channels.
The goal will be to create a common customer-handling experience across the company, Mingle said. Telephone wait times will be minimized, and representatives will have expanded access to department records to avoid passing callers to other representatives.
Mingle said Nissan also will make changes to its Web sites, giving customers and dealers easy online access to their accounts.