Back in 1997, Chrysler began a new Five Star program (see the Quality Digest cover story), requiring customer surveys and employee surveys, training, and grounds maintenance. The program should have been powerful, but it relied heavily on internal zone reps rather than outside agencies, among various issues. Rewards included highly visible signs and web site referrals. See the Five Star program and where it fell short.
In 2010, a new program called Dealer Standards used both mystery shoppers and increasing goals; it was run by an experienced outside firm. Dealerships were graded on a variety of categories, including customer relations and facilities, but sales volume was a major factor, and the criteria varied from month to month. We don’t know what happened to this one, and FCA US did not tell us.
In 2015, FCA US announced its Customer First Award, created in conjunction with its dealers and J.D. Power. Dealers getting the “Customer First Award for Excellence” could, according to FCA’s Al Gardner, “market themselves to customers as elite stores. We believe it will give us a serious competitive advantage ... [and] significantly improve customer satisfaction, loyalty and retention in our dealerships.”
The key Customer First Award criteria are:
It was rolled out to dealers in October 2015, with 60 workshops across the country that include both award requirements and best practices.
Reid Bigland, FCA North America sales head, wrote, “If we are to continue our growth, we need to retain the customers that we’ve work so hard to conquest over the last four years and bring new buyers to our brands and dealerships. Developing relationships with those customers that we’ve earned translates to growth in our service business and long-term sales success.”
Certified dealers get recognition on corporate websites (e.g. dodge.com), the Find-A-Dealer search tool, dealership websites, and Google searches, and can use the award logo in local advertising, with a physical award for their showroom.
The first 124 winners are below. Another group is due to be announced in early 2017.
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