While there is much pressure on dealers to hone their customer retention processes, motor retailers are also reliant on their manufacturer partners playing their own part.
For some manufacturers, particularly those without dominant market positions and vast resources of people, it’s a role contracted out to specialists.
As well as being a household name for roadside assistance, RAC also provides a variety of white-label customer-facing services for a number of car manufacturers.
While for some the partnership focuses on emergency breakdown service, others such as Hyundai have contracted RAC to fulfil a broader CRM role.
From the RAC’s Bescot base in the West Midlands the Hyundai customer service team creates a seamless link between the carmaker, its dealers and its customers.
It works from a Hyundai branded area, and members wear branded tops.
Its manager, Carole Campbell, carries Hyundai business cards and reports into Graham Lightfoot, Hyundai UK’s aftersales director.
Lightfoot said the carmaker benefits from a dedicated team of high quality, experienced customer service personnel.
“At Hyundai Motor UK our total number of employees is about 150 people so we’re not big enough to cycle people through customer service.
"The RAC has the resources to build the culture and expertise of managing customer service and can move its people around to broaden their experience.”
Issues that the RAC team manages may range from delays on repair parts or complaints about a dealer to new car orders being held up by production limitations.
One recent instance concerned lack of supply of the ix35 2.0-litre diesel.
As delivery dates lengthened and the risk of customer cancellations grew, the Hyundai customer service team worked with the dealer network to offer to put buyers into a 1.7-litre diesel immediately, which the dealer would buy back at the transaction price once their 2.0D was ready.
“As our volume has extended and our recognition has extended to a broader customer base we’re facing new challenges that we have to overcome in order to meet our customers’ expectations,” said Lightfoot.
Campbell added: “The relationship with the dealer network is key to customer satisfaction.
"We’re in contact with dealers on a daily basis, to update them on contact that customers have had with us, and any parts delays. My team is here to support the dealer network and take that job away from them.”
No more than 5% of cases go over 10 days. Almost 80% are resolved within three days.
Lightfoot sees customer retention as key in helping the Hyundai network improve their aftersales absorption.
“We did well out of scrappage. We have to keep those people coming into the network to make them repeat customers in future,” he said.