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Eight questions to...A manufacturer aftersales chief

David Higson, head of technical and service quality, Mercedes-Benz Vans

David Higson, head of technical and service quality, Mercedes-Benz Vans, is excited about how technology and connectivity can help him deliver the best service possible to customers.

What are the main responsibilities of your role?

HIGSON: I’m very lucky, as I get to head a great team responsible for such an important part of our business. We serve our customers via our 116 sites across the UK to ensure their businesses are kept moving.

As part of that, we are focused on customer

service delivery and everything that entails, including connectivity and digitalisation programmes that are being developed to continuously improve our offering.

My daily focus is to ensure our technical support and customer services, including 24-hour roadside assistance, are maintained to the highest levels, including management of the UK-specific service levels delivered by our pan-European customer assistance centre.

Another important element of my role is the constant dialogue with our customers and dealers. This helps to shape the direction of the business.

 

What are the most significant challenges ahead in your field of work?

HIGSON: The challenge is always to keep customers’ businesses moving and exceed the expectations of their diverse requirements. Ultimately, a van is a mechanical item and will need to be maintained, so it is our unrelenting focus to do this with as little disruption as possible.

We offer round-the-clock servicing across the vast majority of our nationwide dealer network, 24-hour free roadside assistance and operate using highly trained technicians, but my specific challenge also comes with the ‘what next’ bit.

For example, the use of technology and connecting our customers’ vans to our network has become one of the more exciting elements of my role.

 

How could these challenges be overcome?

HIGSON: Challenges will always be faced in a business, but I believe they can be turned into opportunities. For example, we work collaboratively across all departments within Mercedes-Benz Vans in the UK. It’s no longer ‘sales’ and ‘aftersales’ – we always have the broader business view in mind.

We know our service offering delivers value for money to customers and presents retention opportunities to our dealer partners, which helps drive sustainability and promotes reinvestment with the brand.

However, the biggest area of opportunity is the

digitalisation of this offering and all that entails, so when we start to link our service solutions with vehicle connectivity via Mercedes PRO, we become a true partner to our customers – not just a manufacturer.

 

What attracted you to this area of expertise?

HIGSON: My background is engineering, sales and marketing, and training. I completed an engineering apprenticeship, which led me into a technical sales role within the commercial vehicle industry.

From here, I moved into a sales and marketing role for Mercedes-Benz Vans, heading the marketing function a number of years ago. The brand is good at developing people, so I moved to a training role to cement my passion for all things technical, as well as promoting the best customer experience through learning.

This ultimately led me to my position as head of technical and service quality, bringing together all of my experience into the one role.

 

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in your career, and how have you made use of it?

HIGSON: You can’t go too far wrong if you work with the customer in mind first and foremost. I have also learned that it helps to work collaboratively and be  adaptable to change. Having a good sense of humour is essential, too.

As customer needs have changed, the company has evolved. My adaptability to change has enabled me to continue to progress within the organisation and ensures all the knowledge and expertise I have stays with Mercedes-Benz Vans.

 

Quick-fire questions

What drives you?

I genuinely love the brand of Mercedes-Benz Vans and what it stands for.

What’s your favourite app?

We use Slack at work to communicate our key achievements and news stories.

How do you relax?

I own a classic Mercedes-Benz and enjoy mountain biking and other sports with my young son.



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