Kiri Kiely-Rodriguez, 35
Senior manager for customer experience, Mitsubishi Motors North America
Big break: Gaining leadership experience in her first job at Mitsubishi
Kiri Kiely-Rodriguez has turned her love for the retail business into a fast-track career.
It’s about “interacting with customers day in and day out, thinking on your feet, making somebody’s day,” she said.
Kiely-Rodriguez’s retail career began at a Seattle-area Nordstrom while earning a bachelor’s degree at the University of Washington.
“I graduated in 2009 — the worst time due to the recession — and was promoted to sales manager shortly thereafter,” she said.
From those humble beginnings, she now finds herself charting a promising career at Mitsubishi Motors North America.
As senior manager of customer experience, Kiely-Rodriguez oversees training for the Japanese automaker’s U.S. sales and dealer network.
Her mandate at Mitsubishi is to keep “pushing the envelope” on the customer experience — meeting and exceeding customer expectations of the brand.
In her four years at Mitsubishi, Kiely-Rodriguez has made an impression — and a difference.
Under her oversight, it became the top Asian brand and a top-three nonpremium brand in the 2021 J.D. Power Customer Service Index.
Kiely-Rodriguez received the Summit Emerging Media Award for developing a virtual-reality-based training tool for the 2019 Eclipse Cross compact crossover.
“This was one of the company’s most impactful and engaging training programs, and it showcased my project leadership capabilities,” Kiely-Rodriguez said. “This was the first step in MMNA refocusing its training approach to use more virtual and digital experiences.”
Mitsubishi’s virtual training strategy might be timely in the brave new world of social distancing, but it began long before the pandemic. Traditional training methods were proving to be inefficient in time, cost and logistics across a fragmented dealer network with varying degrees of expertise.
“It’s really important for us to make sure that we could deliver training virtually to every single customer-facing sales and aftersales employee,” Kiely-Rodriquez said. “With COVID, we really didn’t lose a step in our training.”
The virtual training tool is having a measurable impact on Mitsubishi dealers. So far, 95 percent of the network has completed current model-year training, and their effectiveness in explaining features is up 10 percent year over year.
Kiely-Rodriguez said she identified the need for virtual training shortly after joining Mitsubishi as a national sales training manager in 2017.
“A big part of our strategy at the time was to do a lot of in-market training,” she said. “I saw the need to get to those employees that couldn’t always make it to training — they can’t always leave for the day to have a two-hour training session and then get back to the store.”
— Urvaksh Karkaria