Audi Cam was a great project to roll out to the Audi Dealer Network, with a great mix of interesting and practical elements. It is always challenging to integrate a new process into a busy workplace that involves both technology and a requirement of skills from the staff involved, but this project was great fun, contemporary, even ground breaking and with a strong business case.
It’s hard to believe that when TV first arrived people didn’t really know what it would be used for! Without all that we now associate with TV and all that we have viewed on TV in our lives, we would certainly have to think about it’s application. TV needs content. The internet is the same and we are still learning how it actually helps us to do business.
Using technology and particularly video, computers and internet, you can get drawn into doing things for the sake of it when a more simple approach is best. Audi Cam, fortunately, is a simple proposition that makes great use of widely available technology. Any mechanic could film your car on his mobile phone and post the video to Youtube for you, but that has pitfalls that make it unsuitable for a premium brand like Audi. The Audi Cam system is a bespoke build. A secure web platform with all the relevant functionality to communicate, demonstrate, recommend and empower the customer to make the right decision based on the facts.
Despite initial concerns from some Audi technicians they appeared to enjoy picking up the camera and talking to the customer through this medium. It was evident that some felt that what they were saying was a bit obvious, in their world it is, but to the majority of customers there is a lot to take in and understand about their vehicles. They need guidance on why a repair is required and the implications if repair isn’t carried out. Also a technician is under cars all day long, your average driver has probably never looked underneath the car that they may drive every day.
Service Advisors in Audi Centres are also busy people. The fulfilment of customer requirements is orchestrated by them and it is no surprise that Audi drivers have high expectations of service. Any extra work that these guys are given will not be accepted gladly unless it is going to make their day more efficient. Some are skeptical at first, learning anything new takes time. The Audi Cam system, being web based is rather like any Software as a Service (SAS), or modern website that involves user input, in that it is intuitive and user friendly. You can work through menus in a logical way. Workers at car garages have had their share of clunky systems and software, but this is very different.
The Service Advisor will start uploading the video to be encoded by the system and will then add the details of the job with recommendations before sending the link to the customer. This takes about 5 minutes to do. Because this is initially a one way ‘push’ of information it is important that it is thorough and answers immediate and probable questions that the customer may have. Communication and information is rich to say the least, the customer can see the elements of their vehicle that require work with a commentary of what they are looking at from the Technician at the vehicle. Crucially the technician makes a recommendation within the commentary. The Service Advisor adds details of cost and timescales and any other practical pieces of information. There are also online information sheets to let the customer know what certain parts are and what they do. It all builds to a complete set of information that enables the customer to decide how they wish to proceed.
To the most cynical of customers a Service Advisor could be seen as a salesman convincing you to part with money. With Audi Cam there isn’t much opportunity to be cynical as you have information and rich media from a whole team – The Technician at the car, the Service Advisor and detailed information from one of the best car makers in the world. The profiles and experience of the staff are also very visible.
This new process is not restrictive and if a phone call is necessary too, then that’s fine. The best mixture of communication will always be appropriate. In an ideal world the customer will authorise the work from the website, if they don’t then they are better armed to have that telephone discussion.
Knowing that on any day in an Audi workshop there are plenty of vehicles being serviced and having routine work carried out, I knew that it would not always be easy to find a car sat on a ramp with an obvious fault. With this in mind I borrowed my fathers Audi A6 Avant, 10 years old and purchased from a car auction. Perhaps not serviced as much as it would have liked, I imagined that the Audi Cam system would be best practiced with this car.
I was very impressed to see how clear and easy it was to demonstrate the issues, particularly underneath the car. This one required a new rear axle bush and a front suspension arm. Having driven the car over 100 miles to the centre that day it felt absolutely fine as you would expect from a trusty old A6. I could not tell that anything underneath required attention. I sent the link to my dad and within minutes he could decide that actually he didn’t want me driving around with ‘play’ in the suspension arm and so that should be repaired right away. He held off on the rear axle bush as funds dictated that he would get that done at a later date. The authorisation came through via the Audi Cam system from Dad clearly stating which suggested repair had been authorised and also what was not authorised. At the same time Dad received a confirmation email of what he had ordered. The old Luddite was impressed and I drove away even more safely than I had arrived.