AUSTIN Nov 26 General Motors Co rolling
out its own version of Apple Inc's Genius Bar to
prevent frustration over its in-car technology from driving away
Touch-screen and voice-activated entertainment and
navigation systems play a pivotal role in attracting car
shoppers, but so far companies, including GM, have struggled to
make their systems intuitive and effective.
GM believes the real problem stems from the lack of training
provided to new drivers. As a result, the No. 1 U.S. automaker
is dispatching 25 tech-savvy specialists to its 4,400 U.S.
dealerships to show how to teach customers about technology.
"You see a lot of people get into the vehicle, and they
can't figure out the damned system," said Mark Harland, manager
of GM's connected customer team.
"They get frustrated, and they get online and bash it, and
that ends up on J.D. Power and Associates," he said, referring
to the leading U.S. researcher into consumer satisfaction in the
GM's specialists, who are mostly in their 20s, will
communicate with GM engineers on software improvements. GM also
has a dedicated team at its call center in Austin to answer
questions about in-car technology.
GM is also requiring that its dealers have at least one
staff member trained in all of GM's in-car systems - MyLink, CUE
and IntelliLink - by the end of this year.
"Some customers don't utilize all the features on these new
cars," Robert Ruiz, general manager of Capitol Chevrolet in
Austin, said. "If we don't know to use them either, we can't
Earlier this year, a Booz & Company survey showed that 85
percent of auto executives predicted in-vehicle technology would
see widespread adoption over the next five years. But many of
the current systems have been poorly reviewed.
Last week, Consumer Reports magazine panned GM's new CUE
system for its Cadillac lineup, calling it "convoluted and
frustrating." The magazine also lambasted Ford Motor Co's
Harland said GM should adopt strategies from consumer
electronics companies like Apple or Best Buy Co Inc to
help consumers manage and understand their vehicle's features.
It's up to the car companies to offer ongoing support if they're
going to be competitive, he said.
"It's not good enough to just give someone a set of keys and
say, 'See you later'," Harland said. "We need to help people
with the technology."