Cadillac has an image problem. Despite amazing high performance machines like the CTS-V, their customers are getting older and poorer, especially relative to their German competitors. The average Cadillac buyer is 10 years older, and $42,000/year poorer than the average Mercedes or BMW buyer. Should this be surprising? Not at all, considering General Motors’ philosophy for the last decade of offering cheaper alternatives to the German cars, as opposed to building the best cars money can buy. Since 1998, Cadillac has placed no higher than third in the U.S. luxury car market, after a sixty-year run at the number one spot.
General Motors is beginning to realize that Cadillac’s problems start at the dealership level. Customers aren’t as happy with the dealership experience as with other brands, and they have brought in some experts to help. GM has enlisted Ritz-Carlton Hotel management trainers to teach dealership owners and managers about what real good customer service means, and how to keep that level of customer service consistent from one dealership to the next. This includes a version of Ritz’s “credo” cards, small cards that explain good customer service in detail. All Ritz employees are required to carry and produce these cards on demand.
Will better customer service help save Cadillac? It couldn’t hurt, although we’d argue that non-competitive product is what put them at the bottom in the first place. Only time will tell, and with the announcement of a rear-wheel drive STS/DTS replacement in the works, at least Cadillac is moving in the right direction.