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GM Using YouTube Tutorials to Teach Owners About Vehicle Features

The trend to social media illustrates the lengths auto makers are willing to go to heighten consumer satisfaction in an era when word-of-mouth recommendations play a greater role in the purchase decision.

MIAMI – In an effort to improve the initial ownership experience, General Motors Co. is employing the unique strategy of posting video tutorials on various vehicle features at social-media websites so buyers can learn about their new car or truck more conveniently.

Owners or prospective buyers can watch tutorials at YouTube, on a division’s website or the particular brand’s Facebook page.

GM began rolling out the tutorials to each division in recent months, and the effort will continue to evolve in the coming weeks.

At Buick’s YouTube channel, 2-minute tutorials include lessons on how to use the SmartSlide feature for second-row seats in the Enclave, its reconfigurable interior lighting system, navigation, climate controls and the operation of the rear liftgate and cruise-control system.

The social-media tutorials, conducted by GM engineers and marketers, can be traced back to luxury auto makers that began posting such videos on their brand websites several years ago.

The trend speaks to the level of technology existing in today’s cars and trucks. J.D. Power & Associates, which conducts an annual initial-quality survey, says technology issues rank in the top10 for most frequently reported problems.

But it also illustrates the lengths auto makers are willing to go today to heighten consumer satisfaction in an era when word-of-mouth recommendations plays a greater role in the purchase decision.

Buick ranks below the industry average in initial quality, according to J.D. Power’s most recent data. But in the 2010 survey results, the Enclave rated among the most-improved brands.

Cadillac and Chevrolet rank ahead of Buick in the survey, albeit still below the industry average. GMC is the auto maker’s poorest performer.

Initial quality also is particularly important at Buick as the rejuvenated brand launches a number of all-new entries over the next two years. Superior initial quality generally proves most elusive for newly launched models.

“People like to get their information in different ways,” says Roger McCormack, director-product marketing at Buick.

“Some people are perfectly comfortable looking at an owner’s manual,” he notes. “Some people still like the ‘getting-to-know-you’ cards. Some people like it face-to-face at time of delivery. Others just want to get in their car and say they’ll get around to it some other time.

“By offering them the full pallet of ways to receive the information, you’re meeting a consumer need,” he tells Ward’s during a recent interview here.

Buick this month also launches a “myBuick” application for Android and Apple iPhone smartphones.

Vehicle-specific information available with the app, which GM makes accessible after scanning the vehicle-identification number using the smart-phone camera, includes the owner’s manual and explanations of warning lights and indicators on the vehicle instrument panel.

McCormack says the videos are especially useful to smartphone owners, because they can view the tutorials right beside their vehicle.

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