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Volvo Car UK to transform retailing landscape



With the imminent launch of the all-new XC90 marking a new chapter in its history, Volvo Car UK is setting new standards for its dealerships nationwide and introducing two new initiatives, Volvo Personal Service (VPS) and Volvo Retail Experience (VRE).


The new concepts are designed to remove some of the perceived barriers between dealers and their customers and improve trust, customer service and overall impressions of the brand.


Volvo Retail Experience focusses on the space and design of the dealership and is designed to reflect Scandinavian-inspired values of calm, clean lines with ‘cool on the outside and warm on the inside’-style architecture.


The aim of VRE is to create an environment for customers in which high levels of visual transparency are key. Large exterior and interior glazing allows customers to see all activity in the new workshops, turning the spotlight on what is often regarded as ‘back of house’. Inside the showroom, there is a balanced focus on physical and digital presentation, making sure the sales and service areas are completely integrated to deliver an open, holistic environment.    


Phil Hand, Head of Network Development for Volvo Car UK, said: “VRE has been designed to tackle the challenge of bridging the gap between an ever-improving market sector and the current Volvo dealership customer experience. Workshops are integral to the customer experience, so being able to see in and out of the ‘window’ between the dealership spaces becomes a symbol of trust between Volvo and our customers.


“VRE isn’t just about a change of furniture though - it’s a new way of retailing designed to make our customers feel relaxed and at ease in an environment that informs and provides flexible waiting, working and assessment areas.”


Len Hallows, Managing Director at TMS Hinckley – the latest dealership to reveal the VRE design, added: “The most critical aspect of VRE is that it finds more intelligent and appropriate ways of utilising available space within a dealership, balancing the overall appearance and presentation standards with the ability to operate in an uncluttered environment.


“We have already witnessed a change in customer attitudes when they visit the dealership by being able to relax more in our comfortable ‘living room’ area whilst they can see their vehicle in the workshop.”


Also new to the Volvo network is Volvo Personal Service, which streamlines aftersales functions to improve workshop efficiency, job throughput and revenue opportunities for dealers, while delivering a much more personal service to Volvo customers via a dedicated service technician.


VPS, the new name for Volvo’s ‘One Hour Stop’ service, is shaped by trust, transparency and respect for a customer’s time. It works by utilising teams of Personal Service Technicians (PST) working on cars as groups rather than individually. This allows for work to be carried out twice as fast, nearly halving customer wait times.


PSTs then become a single point of contact for the customer, who knows that the person they are talking to is the person directly responsible for their car. This personal relationship builds trust and transparency and helps ensure greater clarity and efficiency.


Volvo Car UK has worked closely with dealerships where necessary to adapt existing roles for service advisors and managers who will continue to oversee workshop and service operations ensuring no headcount loss during the implementation of VPS. 


David Baddeley, VCUK Customer Service Director, adds: “Delivering the Personal Service programme isn’t simply the implementation of another ‘initiative’, it’s about delivering a complete, and uniquely Volvo, aftersales customer experience. “Keeping pace with new car technology, engineering and design, while integrating operations and aligning departments, developed a need for a change in how things are done and Volvo has tackled this head on with VPS.”


Having been piloted in various sites across the UK since 2013, Volvo is committed to launch the VPS programme into all dealerships by 2017, whilst all UK sites are to be converted to the relaxing and ‘more Swedish’ VRE style by 2020.


Bill Ward, Dealer Principal Mill Sunderland, commented: “VPS brings a true collaboration of trust between Volvo, the customer and the dealership staff. Maintaining, extending and nurturing that trust has meant our customers have been able to be included in and witness all processes, from when they enter the dealership on their first visit to servicing and maintenance. The programme has created a more open relationship between our Personal Service Technicians and our customers, which ultimately is driving-up customer satisfaction through transparent communications.”

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