Audi has recorded a “marked improvement” in customer satisfaction since introducing a programme aimed at ensuring dealership staff are happy with their work.
The Staff Experience Improvement (SEI) initiative has involved more than 40% of Audi’s franchised network so far, and looks at how employee’s working lives could be improved.
The programme is championed by a member of the management team at each participating centre and asks employees what it is genuinely like to work there in order to identify areas for improvement across leadership, teamwork, morale and management.
Audi UK director Jeremy Hicks told AM: “Happy staff equal happy customers. If the working environment is happy then our people will go the extra mile.”
Some of the solutions to problems identified in SEI workshops are relatively simple, such as installing a phone in the valeting bay and ensuring management gives regular business updates to staff.
Although they seem like small measures to management, they can be huge issues to the workforce and resolving them has made a real difference to employee engagement.
Audi has grown its sales rapidly in the past five years and has had to develop the “human infrastructure” behind that growth. The brand’s CSI has improved in that time.
But Audi UK wants to be “intolerant of failure”, Hicks said. “We can win a lot more,” he added.
The ethos starts with the management and filters down.
He suggested that the heads of Audi’s dealerships should be like a maître d’, taking ownership of the service and ensuring the workforce has the skills and attitude to deliver the right customer experience.
Management teams have been challenged to provide more and clearer leadership, to see their team more and increase communication with them.
Then employees are empowered to join business improvement groups, to generate change from within.
A peer exchange is also operated for senior managers from different centres to meet and share how they are resolving common problems.
Hicks said: “It’s co-ordinated, structured, and it’s delivering.”