Kia Motors America (KMA) has announced a three-year initiative called "Kia Circle of Excellence" to significantly improve customer satisfaction and retention and to enhance the company's brand position.

Planned for launch in spring 2003, the programme contains financial assistance to improve customer service at dealerships, upgrade dealer facilities and ultimately increase the proportion of exclusive Kia retail operations nationwide.

"There are several key ingredients in our plans to sustain profitable growth and enhance brand reputation in the American market," said KMA chief operating officer Peter Butterfield. "In addition to introducing new and improved products and creating greater brand awareness, we are dedicated to working with our retail partners to ensure higher levels of customer satisfaction. Kia Circle of Excellence will help us achieve this fundamental goal while also driving higher levels of retail profitability."

The programme is the result of months of planning by KMA in conjunction with its dealer council to create an appropriate financial assistance programme for dealers partners to accommodate more customers with higher expectations in the years ahead.

"We are intently focused on continued growth in the American market," said Butterfield. "We prefer to welcome additional customers without adding significantly to our dealer count so our retail partners can look forward to even more profitable operations. To make this work, however, we need to encourage our dealers to step up to the plate by investing more in their facilities and operations for higher customer retention."

The programme will include dealer assistance from KMA designed to improve facilities and enhance customer satisfaction. Independent third parties will measure progress in customer satisfaction, with financial awards allocated on a quarterly basis to qualifying dealers. The programme was specifically designed to use good business fundamentals to encourage, rather than require, compliance with higher facilities and operational standards.

"The only way to assure continued growth and greater market share in this business is through a productive relationship with our retail partners. I believe Kia Circle of Excellence provides the right kind of assistance for retailers to build an increasingly more loyal customer base," Butterfield added.