Chrysler Execs To Call New Owners To See How Things Are Going

Chrysler has extracted the DNA of our executive email carpet bomb and used it to create a weird new outreach program: starting next week, 300 Chryslers execs will each call a different recent purchaser of a Chrysler, Dodge, or Jeep vehicle and ask if there are any problems. According to Cars.com’s blog Kicking Tires, they’ll keep doing this “until Chrysler chairman and chief executive officer Bob Nardelli is satisfied that if his customers have troubles, their problems will be fixed. Nardelli, by the way, is going to make the calls, too.” That last sentence—well, really the whole idea—becomes funnier when you know where Nardelli once worked.

“The aim is to get in touch with our customers because they are more than just numbers,” said Doug Betts, vice president and chief customer officer for Chrysler, which means he’s in charge of ensuring quality.

“When a person is happy with his or her car, they tend to tell five other people,” Betts said. “But when they’re unhappy, they tell 50 people — friends, relatives, neighbors and fellow workers. A positive experience obviously sells more cars. An unpleasant experience doesn’t. If a person we call has a problem, it’s up to us to make it right.”

Sure, it’s a stunt—but in a week they’re opening up a short-lived line of communication with 2,100 customers instead of hiding behind dealerships and call centers.

We’re curious to see how this turns out, so if anyone receives a call from a Chrysler executive in the coming days, please let us know how the call goes.

“Chrysler Execs Phone Your Home” [Kicking Tires]
(Photo: Getty Images)

Comments

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  1. Lucky225 says:

    Way to go big bob lol

  2. Mr_D says:

    Some how I know how most of these calls will go:

    “Hi, my name is Bob Nardelli, CEO of Chrysler, and I’d like to ask you a few questions about your recent purchase.”

    “The fuck you are, why would the CEO call me” *hangup*

  3. Parting says:

    Too little, too late.

  4. azntg says:

    Why the sudden change of heart Nardelli?

  5. dear bob “nards”,

    you suck. go back to home improvement.

    sincerely yours,
    dodge owner

  6. humphrmi says:

    I wish they would call former Chrysler customers. I’ve got an ’04 Grand Caravan, it’s on it’s third rack & pinion. We’re not buying one ever again.

  7. homerjay says:

    @Mr_D: Actually, that last line could also go

    “I don’t care if you’re Brittany Spears, just take my name off your list, dammit!”

    or

    “No, Honey, its not for you. Its just some stupid recording from Chrysl “

  8. dreamcatcher2 says:

    This is actually a great idea. Even in a very small company the executives can become very separated from the customers and have very little idea what the typical customer experience is like. In particular, the people whose jobs it is to tell the executives what the customer experience is like are frequently in charge of maintaining that customer experience… so they have some incentive to use metrics which favor them.

  9. madanthony says:

    I wonder how recent “recent” is. Even the least reliable car usually doesn’t start showing problems until a year or two of ownership, so calling someone who bought a car last month doesn’t prove much.

    I should know – I had a 2002 Chrysler PT Cruiser. It’s first failure was a check engine light after around 2 years. After that, I had the entire gauge cluster burn out, the transmission controller die, and an airbag light that would come on every time it rained.

    The sad thing is I was a big Mopar fan until that car – but I ended up trading it in for a Ford Ranger.

  10. @dreamcatcher2:

    I question the validity of such an approach. I don’t think the method described here is in any way a robust, full-featured service program. It’s just another chunky bit of Chrysler’s turgid sea of poor management decisions. 300 people might feel great about it, but a few thousand others still have shitty cars and no recourse.

    Lest we forget: asking the customer is scarcely a competitively advantageous idea of learning what they want. Doesn’t anybody remember the “Homer Designs a Car” episode?

  11. @ADismalScience: Why so pessimistic?

    Sure, it could be a insincere publicity stunt, but I don’t think the execs actually know what they’re going to hear. I agree that in principle, having executives talk to the customers is a good idea, If they’re actually going to listen.

    It’s better, at least, than the local manager telling you to call them first plan on giving bad marks in the forthcoming survey.

  12. trillium says:

    Odd – I bought a Jeep in Oct of ’07 and not a month goes by where the dealership isn’t calling me to see how things are going (and NOT just reminders to bring the car in for service).

  13. dragonfire81 says:

    This is a pretty good idea, I hope other companies do this too, it might give them a more direct view of customer service issues they’re facing.

  14. parrotuya says:

    I was appalled at how this guy ‘thinks’ after reading an interview with him in Fortune magazine. I predict Chrysler will be the next car company to declare bankruptcy. Waterboard it!

    [cache.wonkette.com]

  15. FishingCrue says:

    Perhaps they’re in trouble because they have 300 Executives. Understand they’re a big company but that’s a lot of Lumbergs.

  16. yesteryear says:

    as someone who believes the release of the PT Cruiser represented the first horseman of the apocalypse, i’d rather see them release this phone list to the general public so we can shame these people into junking their cars. then i won’t have to feel nauseous every damn day when i see numerous PTs on the road. ugh.

  17. Consumer007 says:

    @Mr_D: You know what, Mr. D? I find your post really offensive. A CEO finally does what people like us on this website wants him to do and you trash it saying nobody will appreciate it. Why should anyone do anything then if a few random psychos like you won’t appreciate it?

  18. jeffbone says:

    @Victo:

    Exactly.

    I would venture to say that most people’s impression of the “buying experience” is mostly formed by the treatment they received at the dealer at purchase. To a somewhat lesser extent, this feeling is reinforced by subsequent interactions during warranty or maintenance visits. Since Chrysler has shown — at least in my experience — they won’t police their dealers, and apparently will only occur soon after purchase, what good will be accomplished with this “program”?

    Don’t get me started on the “Five-Star Dealer” program. What a joke.

  19. hardisonthefloor says:

    i bought a brand new truck in august of 06, and the dealership that i bought it from has called i think 3 different times now just making sure that i was happy with my purchase.

    its a good gesture, but the person that they have calling is a really old man that tends to start rambling off about the weather and other things that dont have anything to do with the original intent of the call.

  20. Snarkysnake says:

    @Consumer007:

    Sorry,I gotta call bullshit on your calling bullshit. This is a marketing driven ploy designed to fool potential owners into thing that Bob Nardelli and his team give two shits about their customers.The other posters had it right when they pointed out that these calls may uncover a problem with the purchase (good luck getting that fixed by corporate) and not with the cars themselves. in fact,this whole scheme is pretty dangerous for Chrysler because it could give them a false sense that everything’s OK. It clearly is not.I like the idea of calling the owners of late model cars and deconstructing their experience to see where there is room for improvement.Better yet,call the owners of other makes and find out what their companies did RIGHT and benchmark that.
    Part of the problem with these CEO types is that they get happy talk from ass kissing sycophants 24/7 and are removed from the reality of the actual business.A little face time with real owners (and not just happy ones) would do them a world of good.
    Chrysler’s real problem (and this is shared by the rest of the big 3),is that they either don’t want to or can’t build a subcompact car that people want to buy.They are not going to get that from a brief chat on the phone with a customer.And no,we are not psycho for calling a spade a spade and pointing out the pointless nature of this whole charade.

  21. Buran says:

    VW of America a while back had a CEO who actually tried to connect with customers (and who sent me a message thanking me for my loyalty). Len Hunt, if anyone has heard of him/remembers him.

    He made a lot of customers happy by not only contacting them personally but also reacting to wants by bringing a product long asked for (five-door GTIs) to the US market that has made a lot of people, including me, happy.

    Somehow he was pushed out of the job (I don’t remember the circumstances anymore) and the contact and listening to customers promptly stopped and now I don’t have a clue who is running the company anymore — he/she sure hasn’t done anything to make customers feel individually appreciated.

    Why do companies leave the bad ones around for so long and fire the good ones?

    You just watch. I bet the five-door GTI will be gone again at the next model generational rollover.

  22. Silversmok3 says:

    “The aim is to get in touch with our customers because they are more than just numbers,”

    If you notice, they didn’t promise to actually fix the problems they discover.
    And according to the ‘numbers’ ,by the exec’s own admission Chysler’s bankrupt already.

  23. simba8 says:

    Its a great start.. Other large companies have done this in the past (Sony), and usually these folks would focus on a few trends/issues that came about from the discussions.

  24. mn32768 says:

    Chrysler should worry more about former customers who got burned and will never consider another Mopar vehicle again. Brand reputation sells vehicles, and lost reputation is a hard thing to regain. Extend the “lifetime warranty” to every (Daimler-)Chrysler vehicle sold since 2000 and we’ll talk.

  25. UnnamedUser says:

    Ha! I own a 2003 Dodge RAM pickup that I bought new in the early days of 2003. I’m overall happy with it now, but it was touch and go for more than a few months as the “infant mortality” problems just would not end.

    Security alarms going off because the switch in the door lock was so marginally designed that as a service tech told me, “Daimler-Chrysler expects some fraction of all of these parts to fail in 90 days or so. It’s cheaper to replace them in the field under warrantee than it is to design and build it right the first time”.

    After 3 or 4 of these kinds of infant mortality problems, the truck has settled down and done everything I’ve asked of it. However, it may be cheaper for Chrysler to under engineer parts, but it will not result in a future sale of a new Dodge RAM truck when it comes time to replace this one. From talking with others who need a full sized truck, looks like the Toyota is the right thing.

    Of course, YMMV.

  26. LUV2CattleCall says:

    @parrotuya:

    WTF is up with all your retarded “waterboarding” related comments? You managed to spam the post on Blockbuster/CC already…

  27. BigElectricCat says:

    I live in Atlanta, maybe three miles from Home Depot’s corporate HQ. The closest HD to my house is the flagship store, which is kinda-sorta across the road from the HQ building.

    But I’d rather drive ten miles to go to Lowe’s than go down then street to the flagship HD. And I’d rather drive a Huffy or Schwinn bicycle than a Nardelli Chrysler.

  28. m4ximusprim3 says:

    Sucks to be the 10 people who actually bought chryslers last year. Getting 210 phone calls apeice could get pretty annoying :)

  29. JerseyJarhead says:

    If this is actually happening – and I’ve never seen evidence, much less proof – then good for the Pentastar and good for Nardelli.

    But I stopped going to Home Depot while he was running it because it was the most fucked up, filthy shit-hole of a store, with THE most incompetent and uncaring employees (and in Edison, NJ they didn’t even speak the King’s English…or George Bush’s for that matter).

    So let’s just say I am skeptical.

  30. mariospants says:

    This is gonna be like the waitress who checks in on you a few seconds after you’ve started eating your meal: you haven’t even tasted all of the food and she’s asking if everything’s all right. Besides the fact that you can’t talk because your mouth is full, you don’t want to offend her anyway (as long as the food isn’t totally f*cked up) and you’ll always say “the car’s running fine, thanks for acknowledging me.”

  31. GinnyEchemus says:

    I doubt if you realize how unpopular the disposition fee is with your X customers. We have turned in a jeep wilh only 8200; miles and now have to pay a disposition fee of 425.00 dollars pl;us tax. We did not havej the option of leasing from Chrysler again. k”Thlhis charge will affect our relationship for very long time.Enjoy your 425.
    00 dollars. If poswible , you will see none of my money again Russ MetzgerkAccount #70011790741