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Eight questions to... Chris Lear, Kia Motors UK

Chris Lear, Kia

What are the main responsibilities of your role?

LEAR: My role encompasses all operational and commercial elements of aftersales. I am responsible for the parts and accessories business, customer services, warranty, technical support, quality and the commercial development of the service and repair business, along with aftersales support of our dealer network via a team of field managers.


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

LEAR: I consider my overall challenge is to ensure an environment in which the aftersales business for Kia and its dealer partners can continue to flourish. Within this overriding objective, there are of course many challenges. Improving customer retention is a key challenge, as it guarantees future success in what is a highly competitive market. However, a significantly growing vehicle parc (as Kia is experiencing) combined with improving customer retention can then create capacity challenges, not only at dealers, but also at the manufacturer side. The challenge is to continue to grow, cope with that continual growth and always delight customers such that the business cycle is sustained, while making a profit, of course.


How might these challenges be overcome?

LEAR: We must ensure that both Kia and our dealer partners continue to work together effectively. For the Kia side of the equation, we must ensure dealers are fully supported, such that the efficiency of their operations is in no way compromised. Areas such as warranty, technical support and parts supply are key to this. We also must strive to develop commercial propositions to support further increases in both customer retention and operational efficiencies.

On the dealer side, we must ensure the capacity is there, both physical and human, so customers do not shop around because lead times are too long. Equally, our customers must get the experience we have
promised, through well trained and motivated staff.


What attracted you to this area of expertise?

LEAR: In many respects I fell into the aftersales arena due to my interest in cars. Upon graduating from university in geography, a subject I studied solely because I enjoyed it, I knew I wanted to combine a career with my interest, not my academic qualification. I therefore applied to car manufacturers for their graduate management schemes. I was fortunate enough to secure a position that allowed me to experience many facets of business, including logistics and sales and marketing – this was aftersales. Being a details person, I quickly realised that I was well suited to the world of aftersales and the technical elements satisfied my interest in cars themselves. The wide
business spectrum of aftersales also challenged me.


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

LEAR: Simplify. Aftersales is a detailed and multi-faceted business. As a result it can become overcomplicated if you allow it. By gaining a thorough understanding of all the detail, it is then necessary to simplify – “go back to basics” is a phrase I regularly use. Having worked in the field for a large part of my career, I appreciate how easy it is for manufacturers to create programmes that can be overcomplicated, forgetting that our dealer partners have much more to do than simply a manufacturer programme to operate.

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