Mercedes-Benz is lagging in US customer satisfaction by 3 years, CEO says

Article by Anita Panait, on July 23, 2013

Daimler AG chief executive Dieter Zetsche acknowledged that its Mercedes-Benz unit still lags behind luxury market rivals BMW and Audi in terms of customer satisfaction in the United States. During an interview with Automotive News at the press launch of the redesigned Mercedes S-class sedan, Zetsche said that the luxury is still three years behind from being among the world’s best in customer satisfaction.

He admitted that customer satisfaction was not their “stronghold traditionally,” adding that have fixed it everywhere other than the US. Mercedes ranked ninth of 11 luxury brands in the 2013 US Customer Service Index Study of J.D. Power and Associates. Toyota’s Lexus brand came out on top of the survey, its fifth year in a row.

Completing the top three in the 2013 US Customer Service Index Study are Cadillac and Jaguar. Zetsche remarked that Mercedes could be one of the best in customer satisfaction in the country within the next years, as they have implemented customer service programs, training and changes in dealer margin since Steve Cannon was named CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA in January 2012.

Zetsche has been resolving quality and reliability issues and has been pushing for improved fuel economy and more alternative powertrains since he became Daimler’s top honcho in 2006. He named Gorden Wagener as design chief to modernize styling and raise the quality of Mercedes interiors. Zetsche has also vowed to make Daimler the most profitable luxury carmaker in the world by 2020.

Mercedes had an operating profit margin of 3.3 percent in the first quarter of 2013, compared with 11.1 percent for Audi and 9.9 percent for BMW. Zetsche noted that for the past seven or eight years, they “have been building basic strengths” to become No. 1 again, one of which was achieving top-notch quality. According to Daimler’s CEO, the quality improvements will be seen in the redesigned S class, which long-wheelbase S550 will become available in the US this fall. [source: automotive news - sub. required]

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