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by David Zalstein

With recent recalls and poor customer satisfaction ratings continuing to blemish the Volkswagen marque in Australia and across the globe, the local division has conceded that investment into the group’s aftersales and dealer networks has been inadequate.

Speaking exclusively with CarAdvice, Volkswagen Group Australia general manager of communications Karl Gehling said while there has been significant investment into aftersales and customer support, backing of dealers hasn’t been to sufficient levels.

“We’ve invested a lot in our aftersales activities and our customer support and we’ve seen some significant improvements in our own internal measures and both externally as well. And we continue to make our customer satisfaction a high priority in our activities,” Gehling said.

“I think our brand has grown very quickly over the last few years, so we’ve seen a rapid increase in the size of our car park and we probably haven’t invested as adequately in our aftersales support to deliver the same commensurate increases in aftersales coverage that we should have.”

Volkswagen Golf GTI

Despite improving 22 points in the latest JD Power Australia Customer Service Index Study – the third-largest improvement of any brand – the German car maker remains dead last (a position it’s held for the past three straight years).

Rating overall customer satisfaction with vehicle service experience at authorised service centres based on service quality, vehicle pick-up, the service advisor, service initiation, and service facility, the 2014 study was topped by Mazda for the second consecutive year.

Asked when existing investment is likely to net significant performance improvements, Gehling said it’s dependant on how competitors change as well.

“But we’re continuing to work at it…

Seven-speed DSG

“As with any product you can have issues and we know when/if there’s a problem, and we can identify it, we can obviously deal with that through our dealer network.

“Obviously, the dealers are our point of contact with our customers – they are the front line – and we support our dealers through a number of measures in terms of ensuring that we provide training and aftersales support and our job is to ensure that we work closely with dealers to not only improve the level of service that they can provide through our own process but we also want to make sure that they share the same sort of customer drive that we have to ensure that we deliver the best experience we can.”

Volkswagen Group Australia made headlines last year when it recalled almost 34,000 Audi, Skoda and Volkswagen models due to a defect with the vehicles’ seven-speed dual-clutch DSG transmissions (pictured above).




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