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Chrysler Uses Customer Service to Battle GM, Ford

This past Sunday, Chrysler kept its call center open to field calls for the first time in company history. The policy, announced recently, is now standard for Chrysler and makes it the only automaker in the United States to have Sunday customer service call center hours.

The move is part of the company’s ongoing attempt to bolster its customer experience since emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2009. Since then, Chrysler moved its call centers back to America from India and began encouraging Chrysler dealerships to stay open on Saturday. Last year, the company also opened call centers on Saturday.

"As a customer, I look for having service on Saturday and Sunday," said Pietro Gorlier, head of Chrysler’s Mopar brand service, parts and customer care, in an interview last week in Auburn Hills, Michigan.

Gorlier reported positive results from the Saturday hours and decision to end the outsourcing of its customer service. Saturday became the most call-heavy day of the week and call-waiting time was cut across the board from over two minutes to 30-45 seconds. Thus, Sunday seemed a logical extension to Gorlier.

Pundits have praised the decision, which generated significant media coverage regarding the automaker’s customer service policies. Ford and General Motors, the other two major American car manufacturers, have not generated similar positive customer engagement buzz recently. Still, Ford and GM generated revenues more than three times that of Chrysler's $42 billion in 2010.

Chrysler plans to engage Ford and GM's customers in addition to its own, though. The Sunday call center hours were revealed concurrently with the announcement of new agreements with parts manufacturers to enable all Chrysler dealers to service 85 percent of vehicles, including GM and Ford.