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DETROIT — On Wednesday, General Motors named a new executive director for fleet and commercial operations, who will also head up pre-owned and remarketing operations, as well as assume responsibility for the International Product Center.

Taking on this position, effective immediately, is Brian Small. Small most recently served as general director for GMNA order fulfillment and global supply chain center operations. A replacement to take over Small's former responsibilities will be named at a later date.

In his new role, Small will report to Susan Docherty, vice president of sales, service and marketing.

"I'm confident Brian will bring his extensive experience and strong leadership to the critical fleet and commercial organization and make an immediate positive impact," Docherty said.

"His service at each of our brands on the ground level, working with various dealerships throughout the country, will bring invaluable perspective and customer focus," she added.

Small joined GM in April 1979. Apparently, most of his career has been in vehicle sales, service and marketing functions.

He has held a wide variety of positions under the areas of field sales and service, business management, advertising, marketing, service operations, sales promotions, incentives, events management, regional sales, service and marketing leadership and, finally, vehicle distribution.

Officials also noted that Small has worked in several key markets throughout the U.S. and has represented all four core brands. His most recent field assignments were in the Southeast and Northeast regions.

Reuss Talks about GM Changes

Earlier this week, during the Automotive News World Congress, Mark Reuss, president of GM North America, took to the stage to share some feedback about the ongoing changes occurring at GM. He even gave his presentation a personal twist.

One of the topics he touched upon was the marketing program the automaker launched last September called "May the Best Car Win." As a part of the program, customers received a 60-day guarantee and had the opportunity to return their purchased vehicle if they were not fully satisfied.

According to Reuss, "The great news is that only about 339 of the 439,000 eligible cars sold under the program — that's less than one-tenth of 1 percent — have actually been returned.

"Equally important, we're working to contact as many of these unhappy customers as possible to find out what they didn't like about their GM car or truck. We've never done that before. I wish we had, because we're learning a lot about what we can do better. And I know, because I've made a lot of those calls myself," he continued.

Going forward, he said GM officials will be doing "a lot more of exactly this kind of listening — letting our customers tell us what we need to do to earn their business."

And this isn't the only example of GM officials making a strong effort to better connect with customers.

Reuss listed a few other instances in which he was directly involved, with several of these taking place over holiday break.

He described one example as a customer who wanted to take delivery of a new GMC Terrain before the end of the year. Reuss said the customer was having difficulty getting the model he wanted by the date needed.

"A few e-mails later, I was able to get him exactly the vehicle he wanted well ahead of his deadline," Reuss explained. "And not only did he love his new crossover, he loved that someone took the time to ensure he got it when he needed it."

In another instance, apparently a customer had a question about a Suburban headlight that his dealer could not answer.

"A few quick e-mails back and forth, and he was talking directly to one of our engineers who works specifically on headlight assemblies. Result: One very happy customer," Reuss noted.

Describing another situation, he said a customer had an intermittent rattle that never appeared when he took the vehicle in to his dealer.

"We've all experienced that situation right?" Reuss asked audience members.

"Well, this customer was fed up and ready to turn his car back in. We sent an engineer to his house on New Year's Eve. Problem solved. Customer for life. This is the kind of service I'm talking about — person by person, customer by customer," he highlighted.

Reuss went on to explain, "Now, these are my own examples, but this kind of focus is not just coming from me. This is the kind of customer focus we're building throughout GM these days — the kind of service I expect all of our employees to embrace whenever and wherever they can."

He referred to an internal Web site called "How to Help a Customer" that was launched last fall. He said it puts together several important links, along with resources, to allow employees to easily help customers get answers to their questions.

And taking it one step further, he said GM is now launching a new "How to Help a Customer" mobile application for employees.

"This app will allow GM smartphone users to help customers get answers to their questions anytime, anywhere. It's just one more tool, one more example of how we're working to make customers number one again at General Motors," Reuss said.

On a related topic, he indicated that the company is also giving employees more responsibility and authority to change the way GM does business, in addition to allowing the automaker to take more chances and drive it to try new things.

"And along with that authority comes accountability — setting tough goals and standards, then taking responsibility for your performance," Reuss indicated.

He said the company is also "very focused" on its dealers.

"The real interface with our customers is at our dealerships. If this is not a terrific experience, it does not matter how good our products are — our customers will not come back," Reuss said.

"We know this, our dealers know this — now we need to do a better job working together to ensure that we're satisfying our customers better than anyone else. That's where this business is won or lost, and that's where we plan to win," he stressed.

Taking it down to an even more personal level, Reuss recalled that over the holidays he took his son to what used to be Buick City in Flint, Mich.

"My son won't ever see where I started work. My son won't ever see where his grandfather ran Buick. All that is left of Buick City are some rusty overhead conveyors that used to ship bodies to marriage. It is an eerie reminder of how the U.S. manufacturing base has changed," he pointed out.

"My son asked me, ‘Why did this happen, Dad?' I sat silent on Hamilton Street. Was it because unions and management could not work together? Maybe. Was it because we made cars that people no longer wanted? Maybe. I finally turned to my son and said, ‘This happened because we could no longer compete.' I never thought those words would come from my mouth," he told the audience.

"This job is spiritual for me — as an employee, an American and an engineer. But today, GM can and will compete. We have the opportunity of a lifetime and we have the will to win. The chains are broke. We are free. Let's create a new future together — employees, dealers, suppliers and investors," he concluded.