For those old enough to remember, servicing your car in the 20th century was a hit and miss challenge. Vehicle owners had this idea that it was better to befriend your local service station mechanic or the owner of a small mechanical service business that “specialised” in your vehicle make.
This was true for my own experience many years ago when owning a second hand BMW. I was swayed with the idea to take it to a mechanic who was a “Euro specialist”. The hours I spent there discussing what bits to fix on the troublesome Bema was part of a routine that ended up costing this author a lot of money. Whilst I thought I knew and trusted my mechanic well he had no qualms about handing me the large bill at the end of every service or repair and then convincing me it was cheap because non-genuine BMW parts were fitted! There was no real customer service, no amenities, no follow up service plan and scheduling or a service history. Returning within a week to re-fix a repair became a normal routine and I‘d hear the same excuses.
Fast forward to 2010 and beyond and of course things have improved somewhat as have our expectations as vehicle owners. But in 2016 those old service relationships are still a reality for many people. There is still a school of thought that think manufacturer’s service scheduling is too often and overpriced and perhaps the service itself is not personal and customers are treated as a number. It’s profit first?
I thought that too especially after buying my first “new” car in 1999 and felt obligated to service at the dealership. My fears were realised when I began paying big service bills and small things like washing the car, not fixing a small problem immediately or a warranty issue became a frustrating. The service was not much better than my local mechanic and back then service pricing was not capped.
Fast forward to 2016 when this author has now a few years experience working for a Toyota dealership and become aware of the new standards in service. I also became aware that a common perception that OEM dealership service costs are higher is actually a myth. Well known fact is that manufacturer’s offer capped service costs for at least 3 years ot 60,000 Kms. (75,000 kms for Camry & Aurion). To carry out the same logbook services during this period would be double with an independent or local mechanic. Even after the capped service has ended many OEM dealerships such as Northpoint use sophisticated software to compare logbook service pricing for every make and model. Northpoint Toyota use this data in their service departments to compare and offer better pricing than independents whilst still able to provide genuine OEM parts not only to Toyota but all makes.
But it’s not just about cost.
There has been a prodigious shift in service delivery from changes introduced by Toyota over the last 10 years and especially since 2015 when Toyota Australia introduced a completely new customer service concept.
This concept was a significant cultural shift for Toyota and their dealer network to ensure a committed focus on treating owners and prospects as valued guests of the Toyota family.
And the concept has paid off.
Recently Toyota Dealers earned a gold national award from the world's widest circulation magazine. The Reader's Digest* Quality Service Award 2016^ was based on a national reader survey of customer service across businesses and companies in different industries.
Toyota were judged against all the other large independents like NRMA and Kmart in the highly competitive car service category.
The extensive survey covered 30 different service categories, with a strict requirement that respondents of the survey must have used a service within that particular category.
In the survey businesses were rated on criteria like personalisation, understanding, simplicity, reliability and satisfaction. This also included if each business made its process quick and easy for customers and delivered on customer expectations. So based on customers own personal experience they were asked to rank the quality, speed and ease of service.
Being part of a Toyota dealership team, this author knows firsthand how Northpoint Toyota have raised the with a focused investment in our service departments ensuring guests are satisfied and walk away with a memorable experience. This is indicative of our 5 Star Guest Experience accreditation awarded from customer feedback for the past 3 years.
Northpoint have a motto that a happy guest is a customer for life. It’s in our interest for our guests to return so we ensure every guest’s experience is hassle free and their vehicle is in the best condition possible to ensure safe and reliable driving whilst retaining its resell value for the future.
Things have definitely changed since the bad old days of car servicing.
* Reader's Digest is one of the world's best-loved magazines and is just six years short of celebrating its 100th anniversary. It has an Australian monthly readership of 877,000.
^ Facts for this blog can be checked via Toyota Press release 12/082016 “Gold Award Recognises Toyota Service Quality”
#Northpoint Toyota utilise software provided by Boyce - Australia's No.1 provider of Automotive Technical Data that compares all logbook services and parts prices for all makes and models.