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Kia pilots new training scheme

A small group of Kia retailers is acting as a pathfinder for the UK importer’s new dealership training programme which is aimed at overhauling the franchise’s standards of customer service.

Once completed, it will leave dealership staff at every level with the knowledge and skills that will allow them all to deal with enquiries from customers in a professional manner, according to the company.

“The fundamental problem in our industry is its reputation for customer service, that’s what it is regularly slated for by the media and consumers,” says Lyn Howden, Kia Motors’ training and development manager for dealer operations.

“I believe that a vehicle technician, bodyshop operative, even the guy valeting the cars, should all deliver the same customer service as a sales person.

“We’re talking about effective communication and organisation skills, which will benefit the entire business,” she adds. “Many of our customers are coming from other brands, brands which set a certain level of customer satisfaction. I don’t want them to be disappointed.”

Instead of dictating to retailers, Howden has set a standard and appointed 14 dealerships as Kia Pioneers, who will help determine the training required. When Howden first presented the Pioneer programme to Kia franchised dealers in the summer, she received applications from almost half the network who wished to join the pilot. Owner-drivers and dealer groups are amongst those in the scheme.

Once the Pioneers have presented feedback, the training will roll out to the network in January with a series of one-day regional courses, which Howden hopes will soon gain accreditation by the Institute of the Motor Industry.

Howden believes the Pioneer programme will bring other benefits to the brand. “At the moment Kia is not a brand that salespeople aspire to work for. But we want them to aspire to it. Through our training programme and career development opportunities we want to provide something that makes them proud to come to Kia,” she says.

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