Sometime ago, Tata Motors received customer feedback from customers in Uttar Pradesh, and in the Southern region, that fuel efficiency level in their trucks is not as promised. That is a cause of concern as fuel efficiency is a key part of the total cost of ownership (TCO), based on which a truck/bus is purchased.
The company soon despatched a team of experts, called Dronas, to meet the customers and help address the customer's concern. "They immediately, overnight go there, and travel with the customer. They watch, and in the next trip they actually drive and they show what needs to be done to get better fuel efficiency," says Girish Wagh, head – commercial vehicles, Tata Motors. Similarly, there are Dronas are in supporting sales too. A team of 40 Dronas remain on call all the time. These experts work on contract basis with Tata Motors, and their service to the customer is free.
The Drona concept was started over a year ago, and strengthened further this year as customer calls for support have increased after the introduction of the Bharat Stage IV emission norm in April this year, and BS IV vehicles some with some technologies and features that customers may not be familiar with. "With the BS IV technology coming in, we felt the need to add more people to respond faster," says R T Wasan, head - marketing & sales, commercial vehicles, Tata Motors.
If a Drona helps in simplifying technology, enhancing fuel efficiency or in the sales process, an Acharya helps in maintaining the vehicle's health. Over 12,000 technicians have been trained to be Acharyas who can service any BS IV Tata truck or bus. The name Drona and Acharya add up to form the name of the mythical character Dronacharya, a master coach in military arts in the epic Mahabharata.
Part of a larger game-plan
The strategy to form the Drona and Acharya teams is part of Tata Motors' larger plan to regain lost market share and maintain the leadership position in the CV market sustainably. Other steps to provide "comfort" to customers include Zippy – a guarantee to repair and restoration guarantee within 48 hours and Alert – a breakdown assist across 240,000km of state and national highways with a 48-hour repair and restoration promise.
On one hand, Tata Motors is working on strengthening ties with its customers (dealers and end customers) to enhance sales, on the other, it is taking steps to reduce costs. Wagh says that Tata Motors has worked on a modular configuration of its products. For example, 99 parts/assemblies have been changed to 52 modules. This is aimed at helping to company to also react to market demand faster.
Over the last couple of years, Tata Motors has lost market share and more significantly in the core market of medium and heavy commercial vehicles (M&HCVs). The company says that BS IV supply chain hiccups, advancement of purchases in Q4 of FY '17 also led to the fall during Q1 of the current financial year. Wagh says that the tide is turning.
In his first media interaction as head of the company's CV business, Wagh shared that the business has started witnessing growth (except for a fall in CV passenger vehicles last month) in all segments from July.
The company plans to invest Rs 1,500 crore across all CV segments this year, and annually going forward. Simultaneously, Wagh and his team plan to keep working on strengthening existing bonds with customers. With growing aggression by other domestic and global CV makers, Tata Motors will have to work very hard to regain lost turf before building it further.
Wagh believes enhancing the customer's comfort will yield more benefits than playing the price card. "A CV customer does not buy on price. A customer buys on comfort," says Wagh. And comfortable they should be for Tata Motors to succeed, as 50 percent of M&HCV sales is estimated to be driven by repeat purchase or referrals. Tata Motors' Dronas and Acharyas will play a key role in the company's quest to provide more peace of mind to its customers.