Skoda is on a drive to consolidate its sales and service operations across the country, before its ‘India 2.0’ strategy kicks into effect in earnest, next year. The Czech automaker will introduce a spate of products in 2021, including a new, mid-size SUV and sedan.
- Skoda to have 100 showrooms by end-2020
- Service costs have been reduced in the past few years
- Service-related complaints have also fallen by 50 percent
The company recently opened one of its largest workshops in the country, at Navi Mumbai, which is capable of serving 7,000 vehicles per annum. Speaking to Autocar India at the inauguration of the new facility, Zac Hollis, director, sales, service and marketing, Skoda Auto India, said, “The plan is to get our business ready for India 2.0.” “We have to improve aftersales services and customer satisfaction, and also get more reach,” he added.
Skoda expanding its service network
Skoda’s limited presence across the country has been a key factor in stunting its market penetration and is something that the brand is working to remedy. “In the past, we had too small a network, which meant that many customers had to travel 100-200km to get their cars serviced. We have to change that,” mentioned Hollis.
He added, “Expanding the reach of the dealer network is one of the key things we are working on, and we will get to 130 dealers.” The company has already strengthened its sales footprint from 65 outlets at the beginning of 2020, to 100 showrooms. Many of the new facilities, which are coming up in Tier-III and -IV cities, are being set up with “small, two-bay workshops which will be able to do 60-70 percent of the work. And then for more complex tasks, people can go back to the main dealership. So, we will have this (hub and) spoke system,” explained the Skoda head.
Focus on improving aftersales quality
Another area that Skoda is working hard to improve is the service quality, which hasn’t been the brand’s strongest suit over the years. To begin with, the automaker is investing in tools, equipment and facilities at its workshops.
Taking a hard stand, the company boss further stated, “We will only be taking those partners into the India 2.0 phase that are focused on customer satisfaction and centricity.” Based on customer feedback, the company is re-examining its relationship with certain dealers. “I’ve got to make sure that going forward, I build the dealers with the right attitude. I have parted company with some dealers due to a high number of customer complaints.”
And in order to cultivate the desired attitude, Skoda is “working on the culture within the dealer network” by training its staff, mentioned Hollis.
Transparency and lower costs to play key role
Skoda has been reining in services costs for customers over the past few years, something that is corroborated by our spare parts and maintenance cost studies. And though the automaker’s prices may still not be class-leading, they have shown a marked improvement.
Another aspect that should help in building consumer confidence is transparency. “We have the service cost calculator – accessible from our website and the MySkoda app – so we can be transparent and upfront with customers about how much a service will cost.”
Summing up the recipe of a satisfactory customer experience, Hollis said, “You have to fix a customer’s car quickly, fix it the first time, and the cost needs to be fair and transparent.”
Improving customer perception
While altering consumer perception is a long and arduous task and has to be done “customer-by-customer”, Hollis mentioned that the brand has already begun seeing positive results. “The number of complaints we’ve received has fallen by 50 percent in the last two years. At the moment, only about 0.6 percent of the customers are dissatisfied. This is the lowest we’ve ever seen, and this is a big improvement.”