Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles revises its aftersales promise to fleets

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles (VWCV) has revised its aftersales promise to fleet customers after it discovered not all of its commitments were being met by its dealer network.

Kevin Rendell, head of parts and service at VWCV, told Fleet News that after joining the business in February 2013, he reviewed how dealers were performing on the previous service programme and adjusted it following research with customers.

Previously, if a van broke down, the brand promised to diagnose it within 30 minutes, but that wasn’t being achieved. Diagnosis time is now within one working day.

Rendell acknowledges one working day is “not where we ultimately want to be”, but the brand wants to make sure its promises are realistic and can be delivered. 

A lot of the new 10-point service promise is “hygiene”, according to Rendell, such as not doing additional work until authority has been given.

However, VWCV is also guaranteeing like-for-like replacement if a vehicle under warranty is off the road more than two hours. It will even source a van out of brand if it means getting a customer back on the road.

“If you’ve got a fridge unit we’ll find you a fridge unit,” Rendell said. “Our first preference is that it is a Volkswagen base unit, but the important thing becomes that it’s a fridge unit.

“I appreciate that most customers’ vehicles are converted, so you’ll never get a true like-for-like, but the ambition is to try and minimise the impact on the customer.”

VWCV wants to raise awareness among fleet customers about what it offers.

“There are people incurring cost in rental vehicles, people paying for downtime contracts,” Rendell said. “They are not aware what’s in a manufacturer’s package that comes as standard.”

The research the brand carried out with fleet managers operating 25-700 vehicles last year found that the majority had purchased their own roadside cover despite VWCV offering three-year European roadside cover.

“A couple of them wanted to keep various manufacturers under one management portfolio, but for others it was just because they weren’t aware,” said Rendell.

“What they want we predominantly offer, but we need to talk about it more.”

The new 10-point promise is optional for VWCV’s 71 van centres and 28 authorised repairers, but the network is 100% opted in “without any arm-twisting going on”, said Rendell.

“We had a debate, do we get business service centres? But actually we are a dedicated network, we are a singular network that focuses on vans.”

VWCV is using mystery shopping as well as randomly quizzing dealership employees to check knowledge of the new promise, which will also work as a sales tool for the network as the brand looks to grow beyond the market.

“We’re not just selling vans; we’re selling a complete service package that goes with them,” Rendell said.

Customers can choose to pay monthly, annually, or when each service is taken. Fitted parts pricing has been fixed nationally.

VWCV plans more servicing launches soon and the business is considering introducing extended opening hours.

VWCV’s 10-point service promise

  • We will always give you a quote before we start work, so you understand the work required and how much you will pay.
  • We will advise you if additional work is required, give you a cost estimate and won’t carry it out until you authorise us to do so.
  • We will guarantee you an appointment within five working days when you book your vehicle in to your local van centre.
  • We will either offer you a courtesy vehicle, a while-you-wait appointment or a collection-and-return service.
  • If your vehicle is out of action for over two hours, and still within warranty, we’ll do everything we can to source a like-for-like replacement, or the best alternative.
  • If your vehicle breaks down and is recovered to our van centre, we will perform an initial diagnosis within a maximum of one working day.
  • We will fit genuine Volkswagen parts, designed and manufactured to suit your vehicle and maintain optimum performance.
  • We will give you a two-year parts and labour warranty.
  • We will fully explain all work carried out, including warranty work and any work paid for by your fleet company or service contract.
  • We will always wash your vehicle free of charge following a service.

What other manufacturers promise fleets

Citroën: Collection/delivery service within stipulated areas, fleet menu pricing, ability to carry out Class 5 and Class 7 MOTs, Citroën Racing Service (one-hour van service scheme). Citroën dealers aim to conduct initial diagnosis on urgent vehicles off the road, order parts within two hours of arrival and complete most repairs in the same working day. Customers can upgrade to a Business Class package for £249 + VAT for four years/60,000 miles (whichever comes first). This includes Citroën Assistance for four years, provided by the AA. Fleet and contract hire customers can book services or repair with Citroën dealers through the 1link service. Citroën aims for confirmation within 15 minutes.

Ford: Last year Ford opened 100 ‘Transit Centres’, offering elevated aftersales service standards and extended opening hours. A new Transit24 aftersales programme offers while-you-wait servicing, including late-night appointments, and will respond within 20 minutes to online service booking requests made through 1link. It provides priority treatment for urgent work with the aim of completing vehicle off-road repairs on the same working day or within 24 hours. Collection and delivery can be arranged, with every vehicle washed before leaving the dealership. Fleet national pricing is available for 25-plus fleets. Transit Centres will carry out regular audits and Ford also uses mystery shopping to check lead times. It is currently piloting a downtime management system, which will monitor vehicles going into the Transit centres and their downtime.

Mercedes-Benz: Mobility guarantee for the life of the vehicle (up to 30 years), including payment of taxi fares and replacement vehicle, free on-the-spot breakdown or starting assistance should the vehicle break down or fail to start for two years after initial registration, Service24 anywhere in Europe and extended opening hours with some dealers open at the weekend. Mercedes-Benz checks every dealer every month, both as an individual dealer (e.g. Sparshatts Sittingbourne), as a complete market area (e.g. Sparshatts of Kent), and against its national network. Its dealers are checked on a range of key performance indicators, including Service24h attendance time, Service24h repair time, workshop repair time, number of MOTs and number of services.  Dealers receive a financial bonus based on their performance. 

Nissan: Aims to keep customers mobile while a vehicle is undergoing a warrantable repair. The warranty on Nissan LCVs purchased from UK dealerships is three years (from the date of first registration) or 60,000 miles, whichever occurs sooner.  A range of extended warranties are available. All UK-supplied Nissan Fleet vehicles are covered by three-year/60,000-mile RAC Roadside Assistance and Nissan’s business centre staff are trained to mandatory Nissan standards, with dedicated sales and aftersales personnel available at each site. A national customer service centre has a dedicated LCV hotline and specialists. Nissan is currently updating and improving its fleet ‘promise’.

Renault: Introduced the Renault Business Quality Commitment for all dealers four years ago. Its Pro+ 12-point customer promise for its 34 Pro+ dealers supports requirements of larger corporate operators and includes four year/100,000 miles warranty, guaranteed delivery date, free collection and delivery, courtesy vehicle, full transparent pricing, less than 73 hours’ booking lead time, four years Renault Assistance, like-for-like vehicle replacement, free wash, 120-minute pit stop servicing,  dedicated customer service hotline and online service and free wifi in selected dealers. Renault carries out a quarterly review of all of its Pro+ dealers to assess delivery of the performance by the area manager team.

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