GM’s Social Media Center of Expertise is ‘Changing People’s Perceptions and Experiences’

GM is no stranger to innovation. GM’s former President and CEO Alfred Sloan created something similar in 1933: the first full-time automotive industry consumer research department. Henry “Buck” Weaver was the director.


When Anil Mahadev reached out to Chevy trucks in a tweet, he asked about the Chevy Colorado, inquiring specifically about “hill country travel,” “interstate” use, and if the Colorado would “be sufficient.”

Chevy Customer Care responded to the individual’s tweet and put Mahadev in touch with the closest Chevy dealership. Mahadev then went on a test drive and purchased the truck.

“If you’re listening, you’re changing your customer’s experience,” said Rebecca Harris, global head of General Motor’s Social Media Center of Expertise (CoE). (Chevrolet is an American automobile division of GM.)

GM has been producing vehicles to get drivers on the road for more than 100 years. GM is not just one of the largest automakers in the United States; it is also a leader in a new area of customer service for the automotive sector.

The company’s global Social Media Center of Expertise, created in 2013 and based in Detroit, is devoted to the customer, with staff constantly having conversations with users on social media and responding quickly to questions, comments, and concerns.

“There’s lots of different things you can do with that listening,” Harris said. “You can listen for product issues early. What are they saying when we launch a vehicle? We have been able to help identify a couple of early product issues.”

Another of the center’s goals is to provide customers a way to communicate with GM in the social space and show the customer that there’s one face for GM, whether they are talking with the Chevy Marketing team or someone from customer care. This, in turn, helps GM effectively build relationships with customers and automotive shoppers.

The center functions across the disparate areas of GM to focus on the customer and use feedback accordingly.

“I can’t prove to you that I’m changing numbers around corporate reputation,” Harris said. “I can’t (prove that) with numbers, but I can tell you that I’m changing people’s perceptions and experiences with our company and that matters.”

Harris said the key to using customer feedback is to think outside the box.