GM Mobilizes Geek Squad, But Should Have Talked To Me First

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
gm mobilizes geek squad but should have talked to me first

In-car entertainment and navigation systems bamboozle customers and ruin the out-of-the-box experience.”You see a lot of people get into the vehicle, and they can’t figure out the damned system,” Mark Harland, manager of GM’s connected customer team, told Reuters. “They get frustrated, and they get online and bash it, and that ends up on J.D. Power and Associates.” GM decided to do something about it. Will it make the damned systems more intuitive? No, it throws 25 people into the fight against technological ignorance. It has been tried before …

GM thinks the problem is not the system, it’s the damned dealer that won’t explain the damned system. GM sends 25 tech-savvy specialists to its 4,400 U.S. dealerships to show how to teach customers about technology. GM’s geek squad is backed-up by a dedicated team at GM’s call center. According to the report, “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.”

Years ago, when I advised a very large European carmaker in these and other matters, the company had similarly huge problems with then much simpler technology.

For instance, car radios were swapped several times under warranty because the volume was changing without anyone touching the dial. The swaps did not fix the problem. Customers became upset and satisfaction scores plummeted. After months of drama, it emerged that it wasn’t a bug, it was a feature: The volume adapted to in-car noise, actually, the volume rose and dropped with the speed of the car, but nobody had told the customer. Or the service writer.

Like GM now, the large European OEM that starts with “V” and ends in “olkswagen” sicced trainers at dealers and required them to explain the verdammte System to the verdammte Kunde. The dealers said this would take at least an hour each, they would rather use the time to sell cars, and if the car company really wants them to teach tech to the uninitiated, then only in exchange for a horrendous hourly fee. Thus ended the project.

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  • Kitzler Kitzler on Nov 28, 2012

    I am not sure who said it before me, but actually whoever has to switch cars among a lot of different makes, all this telematics crap must drive them up the wall, literally, it is already bad enough switching from one German to another german car,but going from the German system, incidentally with the fuel tank on the right, to a Japanese system, with fuel tank on the left, must be mind numbing. Perhaps a uniform set of standards is what is truly needed.

  • Mandalorian Mandalorian on Nov 28, 2012

    From the first two minutes of my test drive on an Audi Q7, I was fluent in MMI. Same when I test drove a Yukon Denali. I think that it has more to do with the users refusal to learn, than it does the vehicle itself. But then again, I did take some College computer programming classes in High School...

    • Signal11 Signal11 on Nov 28, 2012

      Don't pat yourself on the back too much there. In a recent Audi rental I was in, it only took me a few minutes to connect my phone, change the default language and set a destination with the built in navigator. MMI is fairly intuitive. OTOH, in the previous month, I had spent a month and a half in a Mercedes-Benz E350 that had the most awful controls imaginable. Using it at a daily driver, I never quite figured out how to get everything to without spending minutes fiddling with the controls. It has everything to do with the vehicle's human interface design. I've been using computers since I was a kid, and am something between an amateur and pro in the field of computer-human interaction, meaning that if you use one of a few smaller, specific Linux distros, you might have seen some of my work. If someone like me is stumbling around in your user interface design, it is not me who has the problem, but your UI.

  • Abrar Very easy and understanding explanation about brake paint
  • MaintenanceCosts We need cheaper batteries. This is a difficult proposition at $50k base/$60k as tested but would be pretty compelling at $40k base/$50k as tested.
  • Scott ?Wonder what Toyota will be using when they enter the market?
  • Fred The bigger issue is what happens to the other systems as demand dwindles? Will thet convert or will they just just shut down?
  • Roger hopkins Why do they all have to be 4 door??? Why not a "cab & a half" and a bit longer box. This is just another station wagon of the 21st century. Maybe they should put fake woodgrain on the side lol...