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Kia wants to further raise quality of its sales and marketing

Despite increasing global sales and factory output hitting capacity, Kia has no plans to add any new plants in the near future. The emphasis instead will be on improving quality and brand image.

Thomas Oh, executive vice president of the company's international business division, said: "We have taken a decision to switch our focus to quality rather than quantity. We have grown very strongly over the past few years and we must be careful that we don't stretch too far too quickly.

"In terms of quality, this is not just about our vehicles, but the way we market them, our manufacturing operations and our dealers. We want our dealers to be the best and we also want them to be profitable.

"We will concentrate our training of sales and servicing people and workshop technicians to provide service of the highest quality. Then we can think about moving on to the next step in terms of adding capacity."

In the past five years Kia has increased sales globally from almost 1.4m vehicles in 2008 to 2.7m last year. Oh said he expects sales to pass 2.8m this year although the company's factories will be creaking at the seams.

The UK is Kia's biggest market in Europe with sales expected to pass 72,000 this year - well ahead of its original target of 65,000.

UK sales director David Ovenden said: "We have been about to source additional supplies of cars this year but it is getting increasingly difficult. We are hoping to squeeze a few more sales next year but as Mr Oh said, we will concentrate on getting the quality of our customer service right."

Ovenden and his team will be looking at Kia's dealers and the processes within them with a particular focus on managing and responding to inquiries.

He added: "The industry generally has not been good on following up customer inquiries and we need to put more robust processes in place.

"Customers want a much faster response particularly to email inquiries. We have found that this is not happening all the time. Some dealers are better at this than others but generally this is an area we are looking at and we will be stepping up our ‘mystery e-shopping' to help improve things."

Dealer staff are also being given training modules on every Kia model and the technologies included in them so that customers can be better briefed.

Ovenden added: "We have a good opportunity to focus on quality in 2014 as it will not be such a busy year in terms of new models. We will be getting the new Soul, however, at the end of the first quarter and the EV version at the end of the year. We will see how the market goes with the EV but we are not expecting to sell it in new numbers and we have no idea at the moment what the prices will be from the factory."

There will also be some refreshing of the Sportage and Optima models during 2014.



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