TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Nissan will try to speed feedback from vehicle shoppers and move beyond widely accepted customer satisfaction practices.
"At Nissan we're going to be killing customer satisfaction," Fred Diaz, Nissan senior vice president for U.S. sales and marketing and operations, told an industry audience last week at the CAR Management Briefing Seminars here.
"We're working to move away from that because we believe that the industry has fallen into this trap of customer satisfaction that is managed by surveys, where OEMs and dealers alike are doing nothing more than chasing the score instead of optimizing the customer experience."
Customer satisfaction impressions typically are gathered by an automaker or a third-party data company, such as J.D. Power, which surveys customers shortly after their shopping, buying or service shop experience. Responses are processed and shared with a business weeks, months or longer after the event.
Diaz acknowledged that Nissan's new approach will be seen as "ludicrous" by some. But he said the goal is to provide immediate feedback on customers' shopping impressions to learn what his retailers did right or wrong.
"We're working to provide dealers immediate, actionable feedback from the customer on a real-time basis," Diaz told the audience. "And when I say a real-time basis, I mean while the customers are still in the store, or the very next day or within hours of them leaving the store.
"This allows a Nissan dealer to address the customers' issues immediately and fix the processes within their store so that it doesn't happen again," he said. "The weeks or months that traditional customer satisfaction processes have typically taken -- we all know it's far too late."
Diaz said that changes in its retail and distribution chain are driving the brand's U.S. growth.
Nissan's sales are up 13 percent for the first seven months of this year and its market share is up by half a percentage point to 7.9 percent, according to the Automotive News Data Center.
Nissan is freeing up its geographic U.S. sales regions to operate more flexibly, controlling their own profit and loss results, ad budgets and incentives decisions. The regions now have greater power to stock specific models that are in demand in local markets.
Nissan also has created an executive position for a "vice president of customer quality" and chief customer officer to monitor the efforts.