Af­ter­sales ser­vices back­bone of BMW growth strat­egy in China

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - MOTORING - LI FUSHENG li­fusheng@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Ger­man pre­mium au­tomaker BMW is gear­ing up to drive fur­ther cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion with af­ter­sales ser­vices in the in­creas­ingly com­pet­i­tive mar­ket of China.

One ex­am­ple of its ef­forts is the bi­en­nial BMW Na­tional Af­ter­sales Com­pe­ti­tion of Ex­cel­lence, which in­volves more and more par­tic­i­pants each year.

T he au­tomaker said the event this year, which con­cluded on Thurs­day in Guangzhou, had for the first time at­tracted con­tes­tants from all of its more than 500 deal­er­ships across the coun­try.

Nearly 20,000 peo­ple en­rolled in the event when it started in June and 145 sur­vived sev­eral rounds of ex­ams to com­pete as fi­nal­ists.

Their com­pe­ti­tion was broad­cast live with com­men­ta­tors, like those seen in sports broad­casts, telling the au­di­ence if what the con­tes­tants did was good or bad and what to look out for in cer­tain pro­ce­dures.

The event is de­signed to i m p r o v e a f t e r s a l e s s t a ff ’s abil­ity, in­spire their pas­sion for the work and share their ex­pe­ri­ences with each other to en­hance cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion and trust in the BMW and MINI brands, said Wang Hong, vice-pres­i­dent of BMW Train­ing Acad­emy China.

BMW was one of the first au­tomak­ers to es­tab­lish a train­ing acad­emy in China. It now has four train­ing cen­ters — in Bei­jing, Shang­hai, Guangzhou and Xi’an — and 15 train­ing bases in the coun­try, where 267 train­ers of­fer 691 prac­tice-based af­ter­sales service cour­ses.

Claus Eber­hart, vice-pres­i­dent of af­ter­sales at BMW Bril­liance Au­to­mo­tive, said the cour­ses used to em­pha­size peo­ple skills, but now in­creas­ingly re­flect the real daily work of af­ter­sales staff.

One of the cus­tomer-ori­ented in­no­va­tions this year is car main­te­nance by two tech­ni­cians.

The six-step and 51-item course, which is ex­pected to roll out soon across the coun­try, fea­tures two peo­ple do­ing dif­fer­ent jobs and cross-check­ing each other’s work, thus cutting the time needed by half and pre­vent­ing pos­si­ble er­rors or omis­sions.

Eber­hart said his col­leagues at the train­ing acad­emy are do­ing a great job with 250,000 man-days of af­ter­sales train­ing pro­vided so far this year.

He said it is the peo­ple who make the dif­fer­ence, call­ing on the tech­ni­cians, ser vice ad­vis­ers and parts ad­vis­ers who work hard ev­ery day at the deal­er­ships to en­sure cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion.

The au­tomaker is join­ing hands with 15 vo­ca­tional schools in the coun­try to pro­vide a sta­ble sup­ply of high­cal­iber young peo­ple to staff the deal­er­ships.

Through­out the past 10 years, the pro­gram has trained 6,000 peo­ple and around 30 per­cent of newly re­cruited af­ter­sales staff were from the BMW Ed­u­ca­tion of Service Tech­nol­ogy pro­gram.

BMW’s em­pha­sis on af­ter­sales service is pay­ing off. The 2016 International Af­ter­sales Cus­tomer Sur­vey showed that cus­tomers are most sat­is­fied with BMW among Ger­man pre­mium brands.

Though al­ready in a good po­si­tion in cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion, Eber­hart said BMW will never rest on its lau­rels.

“We watch closely how cus­tomer de­mands are chang­ing, and then re­act to that,” he said, adding that the au­tomaker has many key per­for­mance in­dexes, of which cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion is its big­gest pri­or­ity.

Dig­i­tal­iza­tion and con­nec­tiv­ity are help­ing to de­liver what cus­tomers ex­pect in the Chi­nese mar­ket, where pre­mium car own­ers are get­ting younger and younger.

Eber­hart said the av­er­age age of BMW cus­tomers in China is less than 35 years old, and the pro­por­tion of the post-90s gen­er­a­tion is grow­ing larger and larger, so the au­tomaker will of­fer smart­phone apps and set up WeChat ac­counts in early 2017 to fa­cil­i­tate af­ter­sales ser­vices.

“China is the first coun­try in which we will launch such apps. In terms of dig­i­tal­iza­tion and con­nec­tiv­ity, it is far ahead of other coun­tries,” said Eber­hart.

C h i n a i s B M W ’s l a r g e s t sin­gle mar­ket, where 472,700 BMW and MINI cars were sold in the first 11 months of 2016.

That has brought its to­tal cus­tomers to nearly 2.7 mil­lion in the coun­try, who have paid 5 mil­lion vis­its to deal­er­ships in the coun­try this year.

“That means we have 5 mil­lion touch points with our cus­tomers, and 5 mil­lion times we can de­liver ex­cel­lent ser­vices to our cus­tomers,” said Eber­hart.

“With the pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ence 5 mil­lion times a year, we are not only cre­at­ing high c us­tomer sat­is­fac­tion with af­ter­sales ser­vices so that they come to us in­stead of in­de­pen­dent re­pair­ers, but also dou­bling the chance that the next car they buy will be a BMW.”

Be­sides tra­di­tional 4S stores, the au­tomaker is set­ting up rapid main­te­nance stores to win cus­tomers from in­di­vid­ual re­pair­ers and on­line main­te­nance providers.

It now has about 22 such stores in the down­town ar­eas of 16 cities across China to make it faster and more con­ve­nient for cus­tomers to have their cars main­tained and re­paired.

We watch closely how cus­tomer de­mands are chang­ing, and then re­act to that.” Claus Eber­hart, vice-pres­i­dent of af­ter­sales at BMW Bril­liance Au­to­mo­tive par­tic­i­pated in the 2016 BMW Na­tional Af­ter­sales Com­pe­ti­tion of Ex­cel­lence

PHO­TOS PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Award win­ners pose at the team finals of the 2016 BMW Na­tional Af­ter­sales Com­pe­ti­tion of Ex­cel­lence.

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