'Maruti Suzuki's all-India network services over 1.5 million cars every month and over 18 million cars per annum.’

Maruti Suzuki India has topped the JD Power Customer Satisfaction Index Study for the 17th consecutive year. Pankaj Narula, Maruti's service head reveals what it takes to be numero uno year on year.

Shobha Mathur By Shobha Mathur calendar 28 Oct 2016 Views icon13730 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
'Maruti Suzuki's all-India network services over 1.5 million cars every month and over 18 million cars per annum.’

Maruti Suzuki India has topped the JD Power Customer Satisfaction Index Study for the 17th consecutive year. Pankaj Narula, service head of Maruti Suzuki India, reveals what it takes to be numero uno year on year. An interview by Shobha Mathur.

Congratulations! Maruti Suzuki India is, perhaps, the only automaker in the world to win this accolade for 17 consecutive years and with your kind of high volumes.

Yes, it’s tough, challenging and inspiring! Just to give you a sense of scale, our service network, on an average, services over 1.5 million cars every month and over 18 million cars per annum. The winning mantra is ‘create devoted customers’. Let me explain with a few examples. We introduced concepts like ‘Express Service Bays’ and early morning service to deliver vehicles in time. Express service bays are today operational in over 1,600 cities and offer quick service in 90 minutes. Workshops are proactively communicating these concepts so that customers can benefit from them.

Concepts like Maruti Mobile Support (MMS) that offer doorstep service are being widely appreciated. After their success in upcountry markets, we are scaling up in metro cities. There are over 1,490 MMS operating across India.

These are all new-age convenience services which customers value as it connects with their increasingly busy lifestyle. We keep innovating and finding opportunities on these lines.

We are conscious of the fact that if we take good care of the customer at the workshop, there is a higher probability of getting a recommendation of the brand / dealership. Service gives us an opportunity to promote brand loyalty.

Can you share some of your recent initiatives which have met with success?

In recent years, we have been working on creating devoted customers by offering a delightful service experience. From reducing waiting time for service initiation through the use of tablets to operating some of our workshops 24x7, we have been walking an extra mile.

By empowering our service advisors with hand-held tablets, we have been able to enhance transparency as well as reduce service initiation time to an optimum level. Most of the service stations now boast of a decent lounge which lends visibility to the customer’s car being attended. Some of our workshops operate seven days a week to offer flexibility to customers and offer home pick-up and drop of the serviced car. Today, at a time when everyone is hard-pressed for time, a pickup and drop facility comes as a huge delight for customers, especially working professionals and female customers. 

We have also introduced the ‘Maintenance Cost Protect (MCP)’ programme which helps in maintaining a low cost of ownership for Maruti vehicles.

The customer of today wants everything digital on his/her fingertips. The ‘Maruti Care’ mobile service app fulfills all customer requirements. Customers can book a service appointment through the app, check vehicle repair history along with the cost incurred, get an accurate cost estimate for periodic maintenance jobs, receive auto service reminder through the app, share feedback, locate the nearest Maruti workshop anywhere across India and can directly contact Emergency On-road Service (MOS) 24x7 through the app. Over 200,000 customers are connected to us through the Maruti Care app.

We believe in total transparency and keep customers informed through SMS alerts to inform them of the service due date, the start of work at the workshop, cost and time estimates and completion of work.

Timely delivery of vehicles to customers after repair in the workshop is a most important focus area for us. For this, we are also introducing an Automatic Vehicle Tracking System in our workshops to track and analyse vehicle movement inside workshops and reduce idle time between stages.

maruti-service-backard

Customers can be very demanding. How do you address their expectations?

Customer expectations have been growing and we are conscious about it. Our effort is to strive for excellence. We want every customer to be a delighted customer and every delighted customer to move towards becoming a devoted customer.

Right from the first interface where the service advisor greets the customer with a tablet, everything is integrated backwards. Small gestures like clearly explaining the expenses, scheduling appointments to reducing waiting times and enabling express maintenance have been appreciated by customers.

In addition, we have an extensive customer engagement calendar in place. For instance, with the onset of the monsoon, all our service centres connect with customers under the ‘Monsoon Fit Checkup Camp’. There are other customer connect initiatives like pollution check-up among many. In FY2015-16, we were able to connect with over 700,000 customers through our customer connect initiatives.

What about service costs? How do you keep them competitive?

Costs are a measure of efficiency at work. To improve workshop efficiency, we have introduced several concepts like a two-technician bay. Here two technicians work on a car to optimise service load of the bay. This technique enhances turnaround time. The learnings from the Maruti Suzuki shopfloor like using natural light, use of gravity for movement of parts and tools have been successfully replicated at workshops. Concepts like mechanised car wash and dry car wash for faster cleaning of vehicles have brought down water consumption per car. Concepts like paintless dent removal (also called dry denting) have been deployed where minor dents can be removed without stripping the paint, leading to economical costs to customers. Automated oil dispensers help prevent oil spillage and precision in servicing.

Kaizens or constant innovations keep us striving for competitive pricing.

What are the challenges you face and how are you addressing them?

Customer expectation always moves up and we have to always delight them. Amidst soaring customer expectations, we face a severe talent crunch. Good quality technicians ensure good quality service and long life of your car. To meet this expectation, we are building capacity right at the ITI level. We are working with over 105 ITIs throughout the country to bridge this talent gap.

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