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BMW aims to be number one for customer service

On the up: BMW Australia dealers will be gearing up to sell and service a raft of new models including the 2 Series Active Tourer.

Extra servicing centres, improved parts supply, top of mind for BMW aftersales boss

17 Apr 2014

BMW Group Australia’s new general manager of aftersales and service, Stephan Rausch, is working to improve the German luxury car marque’s post-sales performance and to lead the brand to the top of the industry in terms of customer satisfaction.

BMW’s results in the JD Power Australia Customer Service Index (CSI) study are not detailed due to its small sample size, however the Roy Morgan customer satisfaction surveys last year placed Volvo at the top of the industry, followed by Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and Subaru.

In an interview with GoAuto, Mr Rausch, a 20-year veteran with BMW who has spent the past three years as director of aftersales in India, and the previous five years in a similar position in Malaysia, said the company was implementing a number of measures to become the number-one brand in Australia for customer service.

“We absolutely are targeting that,” he said. “We want to be absolutely number one in customer service – that’s our strategy, but a lot of things have to fall into place.”

While BMW’s Australian dealer network of 46 outlets all currently handle sales and servicing, Mr Rausch said the company was looking to expand its servicing outlets to reduce bottlenecks in key areas.

“I would like to make sure that we come with a service (facility) that is closer to our customers – not necessarily always sales and service, it can be just a service satellite – and that is something we will definitely have to explore across the country where it makes sense to have an additional service,” he said.

“We will analyse the network also in such a way that we have enough capacity.

It’s very important for me that customers get their service done in a very short time, without a long waiting period, so if we see bottlenecks somewhere we will make sure we have enough capacity.”

Mr Rausch said it was too early to specify areas being studied – “give me a little bit more time and I will get the map also sorted” – but that areas of high-volume sales were obvious reference points.

He also identified spare parts supply as an ongoing challenge for company, and the need to constantly update the skills base of technicians working in dealerships.

“These are our two main responsibilities,” he said.

“We get all our spare parts and the entire supply out of Dingolfing in Germany, and you have to really have the logistics chain under a very good control here.

“This is going to be probably one of the most important parts (of my job), to get that right, that we have a really very good high-level spare parts supply and catering for a really complex product.

“At BMW we have a huge model line-up, and more cars coming to the market, so that’s going to probably be the biggest challenge.”

Training is the other key area, with Mr Rausch emphasising the increasingly complex nature of BMW’s vehicles and the car-maker’s attempts to be at the forefront of innovation, “so we spend a lot of time with our technicians, service advisers and also on the sales front in really getting them up to speed on the latest technology”.

The company is also in the process of rolling out a new, more integrated IT system across its dealer network that is designed to reduce servicing (and therefore customer-waiting) times and improve throughput at the dealership, and working to ensure dealer staff are well versed in explaining technical issues to customers.

Before moving to the Asian region in the mid-2000s, Mr Rausch was aftersales manager for high-security cars worldwide, based at BMW AG headquarters in Munich.

BMW Australia’s previous aftersales general manager, John Fairman, is now corporate strategy and customer executive, with responsibility for dealer development.

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