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Cadillac plans dealer, consumer support for CUE infotainment system

Wed, 09 May 2012

General Motors is taking a page from Apple's Genius Bar tech-support program as its Cadillac brand rolls out a new infotainment system.

GM is requiring Cadillac dealers to designate two employees as certified CUE specialists--one in sales, the other in service--as experts to walk customers through the system known as the Cadillac User Experience, or CUE.

GM also plans to hire 25 service representatives that it will scatter across its largest markets to field questions from both dealers and customers. Those experts might even make house calls to Cadillac customers who need help, say, syncing a phone to CUE, says Mark Harland, head of connected customer experience at GM.

GM will provide details of its plans for helping consumers learn about CUE at a wireless conference Wednesday in New Orleans.

Cadillac is rolling out CUE across its lineup, starting next month with the launch of the XTS sedan. It's the industry's first infotainment touch screen that allows drivers to use the sort of swipe-and-spread finger movements commonly used on most smartphones and tablets.

Cadillac also is giving iPads to all buyers of CUE-equipped vehicles. The tablets will come loaded with 14 "how-to" videos. It's also staffing a call center dedicated to fielding CUE inquiries.

Harland says some of those same tech-support elements eventually could be used at Chevrolet, Buick and GMC, which have rolled out new infotainment systems over the last year.

"When I get a new iPad, I don't learn everything there is to know about it the minute I leave the store. You need time to play with it," Harland told Automotive News.

Harland said new iPad users might call Apple tech support, consult Web chat rooms or visit the Genius Bar, Apple's highly rated in-store tech support, where "geniuses" solve customers' hardware and software problems.

"We're trying to set up those same learning tools for people who are buying an XTS or ATS with a CUE system," he said.

GM is conducting a 15-city tour to train dealer personnel on CUE and the XTS.

The automaker is touting CUE as an intuitive interface that will eliminate the cumbersome commands and multiple screens that have led customers to pan some infotainment systems.

GM execs hope that adding the layers of support from the outset will neutralize any frustrations that arise as customers learn the system.

The 8-inch touch screen in the center stack features a main menu that has large icons for navigation, audio and climate functions. The screen emits a small pulse when the driver presses a button, which GM says minimizes glance time.

When not in use, those icons fade to reveal a virtually blank screen. The menu is illuminated again when the user's hand approaches.

Other methods GM is using to support CUE users include:

-- An app that replicates the CUE interface will allow users to toy with the system from anywhere.

-- Equipping dealer sales personnel with iPads and training apps.

-- Training OnStar advisers to troubleshoot users' CUE questions.

By Mike Colias- Automotive News