Chrysler's Customer Advisory Board: A Driving Force
Chrysler Fleet Operations Cust- omer Advisory Board (CAB) was established in 2004 and consists of approximately 20 members representing a wide variety of industries. The board meets directly with Chrysler fleet senior management twice a year with the goal of discussing trends and opportunities in commercial fleet relative to product, the fleet market, and business processes.
“CAB represents the entire fleet community — to ensure that their voices are heard in helping to bridge gaps, improve communications, drive initiatives, and have a say in the future development of product, process, and improvement,” says Jim McCarthy, director, VMS, Siemens Shared Services.
Structuring the Board
The CAB is organized into subcommittees focusing on business practices and product. Business practice subcommittees work on communication and dealer relations. Product subcommittees deal with car, minivan, SUV, crossover vehicles, and commercial trucks.
Over the past four years, the board has been actively involved in several successful initiatives with Chrysler. One example is the Fleet Elite program, which establishes a core group of “fleet-minded” dealers committed to developing and implementing processes to better serve fleet customers. The CAB provided direction from a customer perspective on what fleets need in the way of dealer service. This input was integral in the design on the Fleet Elite program requirements and measurements.
As a member, McCarthy has seen significant improvement in how the needs and concerns of corporate fleets are addressed and resolved. A few of the CAB’s major projects have focused on dealer issues, pools, and timely delivery.
Providing Product Input
In early 2006, CAB members traveled to Detroit to preview the new minivans scheduled to be introduced in the 2008 model-year. Board members provided product input during the early stages of vehicle development, input implemented in final vehicle design. The CAB also had the opportunity to test drive current and future products at Chrysler Proving Ground locations. Chrysler fleet executives report the board’s focus on early stage product input will be enhanced as Chrysler’s vehicle development process sharpens its focus on customer needs and wants.
The board provided positive input for the redesign of the Chrysler Fleet Web site, www.fleet.chrysler.com, serving as a pilot group for a variety of enhancements, including PDF generation. Other initiatives include improving order-to-delivery timing, recall applications, and product package content for current and existing Chrysler products. Board members also played a pivotal role in the redesign of the annual “Fleet Buyer’s Guide,” from determining the medium — print versus electronic — to the content and mode of delivery.
According to McCarthy, CAB has been successful because of the unique mix of industries and personalities represented, as well as the dedication and participation of its core fleet members. CAB has done a tremendous job in facilitating the sessions, soliciting feedback, following up on action items, and remaining on course and aligned with its core goals, said McCarthy.
Debbie Mize, fleet manager for Hallmark Cards and CAB board member from the group’s inception, feels CAB is helpful in meeting customer needs and receiving feedback to improve service, product, and packaging from the auto manufacturer.
“We develop structure, and with our great diverse group of industries, we are able to openly communicate with one another. We try to be a group that is easy to work with,” said Mize.