With a wide range of products on sale in Malaysia, Volkswagen has something for just about everyone in the market. The brand’s presence in Malaysia hasn’t had the easiest of times, however, and through a new brand custodian, the brand principal has worked to rectify its situation.

We ask Volkswagen Passenger Cars Malaysia (VPCM) director of aftersales, Deenan Nadar to get a glimpse of the improvements made behind the scenes.

Question: Has there been a significant improvement in aftersales since VPCM assumed custody of the brand in 2016?

Deenan Nadar: Yes, of course. We’ve seen a huge improvement, and one of the measurements is customer satisfaction, which has increased by 80%; this has been measured by an external company with no influence from us.

The other measurement we look at is repeat repairs, where the customer could come back to the dealer for repairs more than once, which has been reduced by 86%. We have achieved this by training our people to be able to repair the car correctly the first time.

The third point is on customer engagement. We have digitised aftersales in many ways, where one of them is the Volkswagen Cares application that offers interactive ways for us to engage with our customers, which has been especially helpful for our dealers.

Question: What extra measures have Volkswagen Malaysia taken to improve the aftersales experience here in Malaysia?

DN: Our customer satisfaction and customer experience is our focus. The first thing we [set out to do] was to setup our training academy in order to qualify our dealer staff – sales, aftersales, front-line, back office and more – where all the people at the dealership go through a qualification process. We really follow Volkswagen AG’s recommendation and qualifications to get our people to the right levels.

Additionally, we have started a new platform called Car Advisor for engaging with our customers to hear from them about their experiences. Now, you can Google-search Car Advisor and find what customers are saying about us. From the start of 2021, we have had more than 6,000 people rate us, and we are around a score of 4.7 out of 5 at the moment, which is an 80% improvement since 2016.

[We have also] digitised the aftersales landscape, and with the [various stages of the movement control order] we had to adapt really quickly. The way we did this is [by introducing] Service Cam, which we used to check the condition of the vehicle and send the video feed [of the inspection] to the customer.

For instance, when a vehicle comes into the workshop and it needs new brake pads, you can imagine yourself as the customer when you are told, “you need brake pads,” – you cannot visualise it. With the video feed from Service Cam, we are able to show the old brake pad and the new item together with the quotation, and the customer can decide if they want to proceed with the parts replacement.

Then at the end of the repair, we can also use Service Cam to describe the work that has been done, describe the invoice, and finally hand over the vehicle to the customer. All the customer needs to do is to drop off their key or we pick up their vehicle, and the customer makes the payment online, and then we either drop off the vehicle to the customer, or they come to collect it.

Also within the Volkswagen Cares mobile app, we have many initiatives and programmes for our customers, so I encourage customers to download the application (from Google Play for Android or the App Store for Apple iOS) and check out the engagement points we have for you.

Question: Customers who are usually sceptical of Volkswagen aftersales service, they tend to talk about problems encountered with the DSG (dual-clutch transmission) and its mechatronics. Have these been fixed?

DN:I can confidently tell you [that the issue] is fixed. This is a success story for us; the mechatronics, clutches and the like which you’ll have heard about over the past few years have been taken seriously by Volkswagen, and so the DSG transmission and clutches have been adapted and repaired specifically for our local market conditions. We do not get these problems anymore.

Of course, there could be older cars [of the type] out there, but we are also there to support the customers. We have goodwill and warranty plans for these cases, and so they are welcome to come to our dealers to get repairs. Having said that, we are moving forward with new technology with the cars that we currently have in the market. We now have completely different gearboxes, such as the DQ380 in the sedans and the DQ500 in the Tiguans. Customers will, in my opinion, have a really good experience with DSG moving forward.

Question: It has been said, Volkswagens are primarily for European use and are therefore not so suited to be driven in Malaysia compared to Japanese cars; is that still a concern?

DN:No, this is not true, our cars are actually built by Malaysians for Malaysians. The models that we are offering right now are models that are locally built, and the cars are tested and adapted to local conditions. That said, we are really proud of German technology and precision engineering, [but which are] adapted to local conditions. This applies right up to the flagship Arteon R-Line 4Motion.

Question: Continental cars such as Volkswagen tend to have a reputation of being expensive to own, to maintain compared to their Japanese counterparts; what do you think?

DN: I don’t think that’s true. Firstly, our service intervals are 15,000 km or one year each, which already brings the cost of ownership down. All together, we have many programmes in place to engage with our customers, and from a pricing point of view we are really competitive.

In terms of customers’ cars that are five years of age or older, we have the Volkswagen Care Plus programme, where the customer can enjoy 20% off their services from their fifth year onwards. The Volkswagen Care Plus programme is free of charge, and depending on the age of the vehicle, the customer can get up to 20% off the total service bill.

Here, the Volkswagen Care Plus programme offers two years of roadside assistance as well as on-site battery support. On one hand, this is to keep the costs of ownership lower, and on the other hand the programme is to give the customer peace of mind.

We have also introduced the Volkswagen Cares repair packages, which is for customers with cars five years and older, pertaining to general wear-and-tear items. With the package, the customer can get 30% off the total bill, which also makes the cost of ownership much lower.

There is also the easy payment plan where the customer can pay for their bills over six or 12 months, interest-free through their Visa credit card.

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