Gareth Joyce says his mission is to make the way Mercedes-Benz dealers handle service, repairs and other customer issues as legendary as its cars -- and on a par with how people are treated by the world's top hotels, airlines and retailers.
"The words come easy," but the task is far more daunting, says Joyce, vice president of customer services for Mercedes-Benz USA.
Three years ago, under then-new CEO Steve Cannon, Mercedes-Benz USA got deadly serious about improving customer service. Several programs were launched, and new initiatives have been added every year.
Joyce is the man in charge.
The South African joined DaimlerChrysler in his native country in 2004 and moved to Mercedes-Benz USA in 2012. Ever since, he has been responsible for a variety of programs, including:
n A two-day brand-immersion program for 26,000 dealership and Mercedes-Benz USA employees.
n A leadership academy.
n A concierge service that offers product information at dealerships.
n A dealership margin initiative that rewards top performers in customer satisfaction.
The programs are showing results. For the first time since 1990, Mercedes-Benz was the top-ranked brand in the latest J.D. Power U.S. Sales Satisfaction Index Study. That was at least two years earlier than top management had expected.
"We have all of our people lined up in a row, focused on one mission," says Joyce.
Joyce joined DaimlerChrysler in South Africa as a senior technical manager.
Before entering the auto industry, Joyce says, he learned something that has served him well as he moved up the ladder at Daimler. A managing director at a former company noted he walked faster and with more energy than anyone else.
"In that moment," he said, "I realized people are always watching."
-- Diana T. Kurylko