For commercial vehicle manufacturers, one of the ways to improve sales performance is through the introduction of more reliable, good performance and quality as well as fuel efficient and environmental friendly vehicles. On top of that, they have to change their approach from solely a product manufacturer to solution provider and become a reliable business partner that could grow with their customers.
Hino Malaysia’s Journey Towards Exceptional After-Sales Service
In view of the industry’s developments and uncertainties, an effective way to drive progress is probably to focus on existing customers and convert them to loyal ones by providing an exceptional after-sales service experience. Fleet owners would be more willing to buy back the same brand of vehicles if they receive good and efficient after-sales service from the manufacturers or dealers.
“Good after-sales service is an important factor that influences commercial vehicle purchase decision. Hino has a philosophy called Total Support, which supports the customer’s business through ‘Best Fit Products’, engages in ‘Customer Oriented Activities’ and provides ‘After-sales Services’. Thus, after-sales service is one of 3 pillars of Hino’s Total Support. Maximise up time and minimise vehicle life time cost are our two after-sales missions,” said Toshihiko Takeda, Director, Business Strategy, Hino Motors Sales (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd (HMSM) .
Takeda believes after-sales service is the crux of truck business. Providing the right customer after-sales support, he said, would make a real difference. A satisfied customer was more likely to recommend the company and products to others. Word of mouth marketing, he stressed, had invaluable impact on the brand and business.
“In the other countries, 70 per cent of the commercial vehicle customers make an intended purchase because of the after-sales service. This shows the importance of good after-sales service. We are not here just to sell you the products but we are also a solution provider. We put our effort in understanding their operation and business so that we could help them by introducing the best fit products, support them in maintenance and provide training for their drivers and technical support and transfer to their mechanics. We want to be their partner, one that they could rely on to grow their business.”
Training Programme Extended to Include Dealers’ Customers
Takeda admitted that the company did not focus so much on the retail sales programme previously. However, he said the company conducted many after-sales activities and programmes in the last 2 years. For instance, he pointed out HMSM extended its training programme to include the dealers’ customers, which received good acceptance and response from the market.
Compared to the other brands, he said HMSM’s strength was probably in having the largest after-sales service network among commercial vehicle distributors in Malaysia. In addition to two workshops – one in Petaling Jaya and the other in Kuching – he noted that the company had 62 service outlets, including 37 3S centres and 25 parts and service outles.
“To ensure shorter lead times in spare-parts delivery and availability, we have 3 spare-parts warehouses located in Petaling Jaya, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu. We stock about 15,000 line items in our warehouses. Besides that, we also have a mini warehouse in Klang and 24 parts stockists.”
Unlike the majority of the Continental commercial vehicle brands that sell directly to end customers, HMSM sells through the dealers and the business belongs to them.
Locally Developed TOP Brand of Maintenance and Servicing Parts
With the Total Support (TS) policy, the company always strove to increase the up-time of its products and reduce the lifetime cost for the customers. For example, he said, HMSM developed 300 line items of locally procured maintenance and service parts, making them more price competitive. These locally-made parts under the brand name ‘TOP’ were only for HMSM’s vehicles.
As part of its efforts to raise after-sales service quality, the company conducts 14 to 16 training sessions for its dealers’ mechanics and 10 sessions or more for parts staff every year along with new product knowledge training when new items are being launched.
He added that all training programmes were conducted free of charge and included material. “For dealers that send 3 or more mechanics for the same session, they could discuss with us and we would be willing to send our mechanics to help out in their workshop if they are shorthanded.
“This year, we introduced a new Service Advisor training programme and we plan to hold 16 training sessions. Our target is to certify more than 20 Hino qualified Service Advisors and these personnel would receive a certificate issued by Hino Japan.”
General Manager, Head of Service Division Redzuan Albakri Abdullah said the Service Advisor was the first person that customers met when they brought their vehicles in for service. Thus, they were customer service representatives and determined whether the customers would be happy with the job and come back again or to the contrary.
“We have to ensure that they have the right attitude and people skills, are friendly and approachable as well as well-equipped in product and technical knowledge,” added Redzuan.
Takeda emphasised that the improvement on the status of mechanics was a key to success. He said the mechanic was a doctor to the product. The medical doctor was often trusted and highly respected by their patients. As such, he said, Hino mechanics should enhance their knowledge and skills to provide professional services that gained such trust and confidence from their customers.
Hino’s Japanese Hospitality
What is the key challenge in after-sales service? Takeda pointed out that the company’s greatest challenge was to make customers understand the importance of proper maintenance in order to reduce their vehicle’s operation cost and time.
“We need to listen attentively to our customers. Their voice provide many hints for Kaizen (continuous improvement); therefore our dealers need to improve their listening skills,” he added.
Talking about future plans, he revealed that HMSM planned to help dealers improve their efficiency in operation, for instance, shorter time for maintenance or repairs.
“Hino as a Japanese company would like to introduce the concept of ‘Omotenashi’, the Japanese way of hospitality, to our dealers. The spirit of omotenashi is the reason behind the excellent customer service that one receives when visiting Japan. We believe that this is our strength and if we could instil this concept of hospitality to the dealers, it would enhance the way they serve their customers. The politeness, respect and consideration are also part of the customer-oriented service. This would help them build rapport and trust apart from professionalism.”
“良好的售后服务是决定商用车购买的因素之一。日野有一个‘全方位支援 ’（Total Support）概念，透过‘最适配产品’、从事‘以客户为导向的活动’和提供‘售后服务。 因此，售后服务是日野全方位支援的三大支柱之一。我们售后服务的两大使命是最大化提升车辆的正常运作时间，尽量降低车辆生命周期成本。”日野汽车销售（马）私人有限公司（HMSM）经营策略总监武田敏彦表示。
“在其他的国家，70% 的商用车客户会因为售后服务而决定购买某个品牌的车辆。这反映了良好售后服务的重要性。我们不仅仅来这里销售产品，而是成为客户的解决方案供应商。我们致力了解客户的营运和业务，以便我们透过为他们介绍最适配的产品来协助他们，支持他们的维修，为他们的司机提供培训，并为他们的技术人员提供技术支援和转移。我们要成为他们的伙伴，一个他们能信赖，与他们并肩作战，一同增长业务的伙伴。 ”
“为了确保更短的备件供应和交货期，我们拥有3家备件仓库，分别位于八打灵再也、古晋及亚庇。我们库存15，000 订单项目（line- items）。此外，我们在巴生有家迷你仓库和在全马有24家 库存批发商。”
服务部总经理瑞川（Redzuan Albakari Abdullah）说，服务顾问是客户将车子送到修车厂时所遇见的第一个人。因此，身为客户服务代表的他们，自然成为决定客户是否满意维修工作，会不会再度光顾的关键人物。