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Customer power leads to aftersales service standard

The rise in customer complaints about poor service levels has led aftermarket specialists Automotive Advantage to sign up with the British Standards Institution (BSI) to spearhead the development of an aftersales and repair industry service standard.

The standard, PAS 80:2005 is applicable to dealerships and independent garages operating from fixed premises in the automotive aftersales sector, and will be the first of its kind specifically for the automotive industry aftermarket.

The standards to be achieved will be published by BSI as a ‘publicly available specification’ (PAS). It will be developed using BSI’s fast-track approach and will draw on the principles of Automotive Advantage’s Maxiima programme, deployed in the Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai service networks.

The specification of PAS 80:2005 defines requirements for the service definition, pre-contract initial contact, contractual documents, service delivery, post-contract customer feedback, control of service quality, and conformity declarations.

The BSI said it would ensure the standard has a focus on achieving customer satisfaction and ‘getting it right first time’, rather than simply defining how to handle customer complaints. There will be a consultation process as the standard is drawn up. It is expected that the PAS will become available as early as this autumn.

Pete Turner, chairman of Automotive Advantage, says: "We have had several organisations already requesting their involvement in the second stage development and testing of the standard and one or two have already signed agreements as they recognise the benefits it can bring. Our experience from the Maxiima programme means that much of the standard is already tried and tested, which will shorten the development period considerably."

The BSI will also run an independent accreditation scheme. Those sites achieving the standard will be authorised to use the BSI kitemark. It says a garage displaying a kitemark will indicate that:

  • qualified members of staff will be available to deal with technical and customer service matters.
  • fully itemised, written estimates, including VAT, will be provided before work commences. Firm written quotations will be provided, wherever appropriate.
  • appointments will be offered to suit the customer.
  • provision will be made for a courtesy car or vehicle collection and delivery.
  • any work identified that does not need to be undertaken immediately, but may soon be required, will be identified.
  • where additional work is identified, the customer will be advised of the cost and whether the work is essential or advisable.
  • where work cannot be completed on time, for whatever reason, the customer will be contacted and advised.
  • replacement parts will be offered that are of equivalent quality to those originally fitted by the manufacturer.
  • on completion of work, the invoice will detail what work has been done including what parts have been replaced.
  • replaced parts will be retained for inspection should the customer wish.
  • in the ‘unlikely event’ of a problem not being resolved to the customer’s satisfaction, a free independent arbitration service will be available.

  • Further information on the development of the PAS 80:2005 can be obtained from Chris Hallam, development director at Automotive Advantage on 01782 855700 or Mike Pearson, head of projects at BSI Product Services on 01442 230442.
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