Kevin Jones/TBB

DTNA launches ‘customer experience’ organization

Aug. 26, 2019
The growing complexity of commercial vehicles required a ‘cultural change’ at North America’s leading truck manufacturer, company officials explain.

It’s a business-talk truism: “When everyone is responsible, no one is responsible.” And to make sure that “customer first” is a verifiable business objective rather than a slogan, Daimler Trucks North America recently launched an entirely new customer experience (CX) organization.

“This is more than just a fancy title. We wanted to make a visible commitment to our customers, that we’re taking the customer experience seriously,” said Stefan Kurschner, senior vice president of Aftermarket for DTNA.

Speaking in an interview with Trailer/Body BUILDERS, Kurschner explained that the growing complexity of commercial vehicles required a “cultural change” at North America’s leading truck manufacturer.

“You have to take care of the owner, you have to take care of the fleet manager, you have to take care of the driver, you have to take care of the technicians—it’s a very complex ecosystem,” Kurschner said. “The traditional organizational form has to develop, as well, to take care of that need.

“I think this is true for all organizations. If you don’t address it—if you just put a title on something—it’s not going to get done. You need to have an organization to carry it through and you have to have the measures and processes to make it happen.”

The objective is straightforward: To provide a “tremendous” value proposition, and ensure every customer, large and small, gets the full advantage of DTNA products, services and support, explained new Chief CX Officer Paul Romanaggi, who will report to Kurschner. To achieve its goal, the CX organization will focus on:

  • Faster speed and effectiveness in solving customers’ most immediate needs
  • Engaging in a “holistic approach” to providing the full benefit of DTNA offerings
  • Maintaining insights into opportunities for continuous improvement; and
  • Being proactive in understanding customers’ business needs for the future.

“The traditional organization tends to have all these individual departments and areas of responsibility. But what you find is there’s not an overarching approach that make sure that everybody’s in sync, everybody’s on the same page, everybody’s focused on the same things for that specific customer,” Romanaggi said. “You can’t just rely on a kind of laissez-faire approach—where the parts people are taking care of them, the service people are taking care of them, the truck sales people are taking care of them, the finance people are taking care of them. The left hand and the right hand are not communicating or being managed to ensure that they’re working collaboratively. Things fall through the cracks.”

Romanaggi is a 34-year veteran of the company who has served in numerous customer advocacy senior management roles, including Parts, Service, Warranty, Quality, Production Supply Chain, Logistics, PDI Centers and New Product Launch/Changeover.

And even as Romanaggi speaks with an obvious passion about his new role, his long career also provides some perspective.

“You never, ever, say no to a customer. Now, you may not need to say yes to everything they ask for, either,” he said. “But what you do is you break down the problem and find the solution. And I truly believe there’s always a win-win in there for everybody. We can all walk away happy and satisfied with the end result.”

Kurschner points to Daimler corporate cousin Mercedes-Benz USA, along with Disney and Starbucks as companies that have successfully built a culture that focuses on the customer experience.

“You don’t have to always think the commercial vehicle industry is different,” he said.

DTNA launched its CX transformation in 2017 with the creation of a Customer Experience Day. During the now annual event, employees and customers from across North America are brought together to collaboratively brainstorm solutions to fully embed customer experience into the DTNA organization and culture.  As a result of the sessions, new channels for customer engagement have been established and DTNA has developed a new metrics suite focused on the processes that are directly linked to customer satisfaction.

The new CX organization will lead future transformative efforts across the DTNA business, including Freightliner, Western Star and Detroit Diesel for new truck sales, used truck acquisitions, and aftermarket service. The group aligns multiple departments, including aftermarket Fleet Service, Warranty, Call Centers, Aftermarket Service Products, and Service Systems to provide an unprecedented level of streamlined customer communication and support. 

About the Author

Kevin Jones | Editor

Kevin has served as editor-in-chief of Trailer/Body Builders magazine since 2017—just the third editor in the magazine’s 60 years. He is also editorial director for Endeavor Business Media’s Commercial Vehicle group, which includes FleetOwner, Bulk Transporter, Refrigerated Transporter, American Trucker, and Fleet Maintenance magazines and websites.

Working from Little Rock, Kevin has covered trucking and manufacturing for 15 years. His writing and commentary about the trucking industry and, previously, business and government, has been recognized with numerous state, regional, and national journalism awards.

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