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Peter Jamieson

FORMER top-level Telstra manager Peter Jamieson has joined GM Holden as executive director of ‘customer experience’ in a move that sees the car-maker increase its focus on customer service as it transitions to a national sales company next year with the closure of its Australian manufacturing operations.

In announcing the appointment, Holden, which performed poorly in the latest JD Power Customer Service Index (CSI) Study released in December, said it had now made customer experience a standalone function of the company’s business, reflecting its commitment to “putting the customer at the centre of every decision and ensuring customer experience becomes an even stronger pillar of the company’s strategy”.

Officially taking up the role on February 29, Mr Jamieson will join Holden’s senior leadership team and report directly to chairman and managing director Mark Bernhard, who described the appointment as “a reflection of the company’s evolution and the unwavering focus Holden is putting on the customer”.

“Peter brings a customer-centric mindset and outstanding credentials to Holden,” he said.

“With a wealth of experience, Peter joins a Holden team committed to reinventing the brand, focusing on our customers and launching 24 new vehicles by 2020.

“Peter’s deep experience and commitment to the customer will bring fresh ideas and insights to Holden’s customer experience strategy and he will play a critical role in our business. We are excited to welcome an executive of Peter’ s calibre on board.”

Mr Jamieson held a number of key finance and operational roles at Telstra over the past 15 years, most recently as executive director of customer advocacy (from May 2013 to December last year) – a position which made him responsible for the telco’s company-wide customer improvement program.

He previously served for three years as executive director of Telstra’s sales and service contact centres across Australia and the Philippines, and prior to that held positions such as executive director of business transformation, executive director of sales and marketing (Sydney and Melbourne), head of consumer finance and pricing, and director of risk management and assurance.

Since leaving Telstra at the end of last year, Mr Jamieson has worked as a strategic adviser for his family business McDonald Marine and Industrial in Port Melbourne, just around the corner from Holden.

Mr Jamieson said he was excited to be “contributing to Holden’s evolution” at such a crucial time in its history.

“Holden is an Australian icon and personally it’s very energising to be able to join the company at this pivotal time. I’m looking forward to working with a passionate team to build a winning future for one of Australia’s great companies,” he said.

As GoAuto reported exclusively in December, Holden fell back to the bottom end of the table of mass-market brands in Australia in the influential JD Power CSI study last year, managing only 781 points from a 1000-point scale – down from 794 points achieved in 2014 to be well below last year’s industry average of 797.

In response, Mr Bernhard told GoAuto that although the results made “sobering reading” and that senior management “have a lot of work to do” in this area, the company was confident it had the right strategy in place.

“I think whenever you get results like that, first off you look at them and understand what is behind the results, so we have started that process,” he said.

“Having said that, we are very confident with the plans we have got in place. So in a short period of time, have we seen anything we need to do differently? No. What we need to do is execute the plans that we have got exceptionally well.

“Our service retention, where people pay money to come to our dealers, continues to improve, month by month. I understand survey results, but for me this is more important if people are coming back to the dealerships and spending money.

“Are we where we need to be? No. Are we improving? Yes. Step by step we will continue to improve.”

Mr Bernhard also admitted that bringing new customers into showrooms – and improving the brand’s image – needed improvement.

“The brand is a little bit like our business, it is in a state of transition,” he said. “As we transition away from manufacturing to a sales and marketing company, we have got a lot of work to do. We have got to start to appeal to a different audience, but we have also got to honour the heritage.

“We have to start to appeal to modern Australia and get them back considering Holdens.”

By Terry Martin