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How IT Helps Nissan Beat Chevy in the Electric Car Game

The all-electric Nissan Leaf had the potential to woo eco-conscious shoppers away from the Chevy Volt when it was launched last December. But from a customer service and sales perspective, the Japanese automaker was at a distinct disadvantage. Chevrolet consistently scored four stars on J.D. Power's five-star customer service and sales experience scales; Nissan earned just two.

"We knew we were going to have a product where demand was going to outstrip supply," says David Mingle, senior director of Nissan North America's customer management office. "That provided us with opportunity to experiment and try new things."

In the past, Nissan customers had inconsistent experiences across various customer touch points. Not all of their information traveled with them from one encounter to the next. Each brand and customer-facing division had its own processes and procured its own IT services. "We were not maximizing the enterprise value of customer contacts," explains Mingle. A potential customer could configure a car and submit a quote request online, but little of that data made it to lead management. A call about paying off a car loan-a sign someone might be in the market for a new car-never made it to sales.

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