The business support frontline staff receive in the automotive industry.
It is without argument that, in today’s Motor Industry, aftersales plays a critical role in ensuring sustainable profitability. As growing pressure on new vehicle sales has led to reduced margins, after-sales has the ability to provide sustainable returns (Little, 2015). The development in technology and the change in customer behaviour have caused the operating environment to change. The service delivery industry is more competitive and customer co-creation (co-production) has become a critical part of developing the competitive advantage (Berndt, 2014). Over the years, marketing elements have evolved and highlighted the importance of the relationship between staff and the customer in the service industry. The front line staff, known as “service advisors” in the automotive industry, has an important role to play in ensuring customer retention, but are they receiving the support that is required? The research indicated that the front line staff had a reasonable understanding of their daily roles and an understanding of delivering customer satisfaction. However, the lack of communication within the dealership with regards to the sharing of information was concerning. The benefit of technology was not being utilised and, although all the service advisors thought they had the ability to build a long-term relationship with their customers, in reality this did not happen. In order for the service advisors to deliver and exceed the customer’s expectations, a suitable environment needs to be created. Management needs to create a culture of customer focus. There has to be regular aftersales meetings where the objectives and customer feedback are reviewed. The service advisors must have a voice and management needs to be aware of their concerns and recommendations. Internal dealer communication must be improved and marketing activities must be shared. The dealership must strive to operate as one company and not as individual departments.