Volkswagen Australia wants satisfaction

Volkswagen Golf VI 118TSI

Volkswagen Australia boss John White has admitted the brand has an issue with customer satisfaction and has vowed to improve.

Speaking to Go Auto, White explained his theories behind the company’s image problem: “Number one was the recall situation, and we’re working our way out of that. Those problems we had with those cars are going away.

“From a network development perspective I think really part of the root cause we have had is our sales went up at a very high rate over the five years to last year and the infrastructure didn’t keep up.”

In our opinion Volkswagen Australia was unfairly targetted in a campaign by Fairfax Media last year which used the death of Melissa Ryan to gain exposure for ongoing customer dissatisfaction with the brand. There was never any reasonable link between the two stories.

The Victorian Coroner found there was no evidence to suggest any mechanical or technical issue from Ryan’s car, a Mk5 Golf GTI with a 6-speed manual gearbox, contributed to her death after she was hit from behind by a B-double semi trailer.

However, while Volkswagen was rightfully cleared in that instance, its response to and handling of the poor publicity collated by Fairfax was amateur at best and woefully embarassing at worst. Most of the complaints concerned the 7-speed DSG (DQ200) gearbox and eventually VW took its head out of the sand and issued a voluntary recall, which affected almost 26,000 vehicles.

But it was too little too late and the damage to its brand was well and truly done. It will take a long time and a committed effort from all Volkswagen Australia staff to win back the trust of the wider motoring public.

“It’s not one silver bullet but there are a lot of things you need to do to improve,” White added. “I fundamentally believe that the only way that we’re going to grow to the next level is to move up in terms of customer satisfaction, because from a loyalty perspective we’re fortunate because we still have high customer loyalty, but to retain them consistently over time you need to move up.”

White has established a customer satisfaction committee with his dealerships and imported staff from China to help implement the cultural change required.

A reduction in product offerings may also ease the burden on dealerships. A decision has been made to stop selling the Up and the Eos and Scirocco are likely to be next in the firing line.

[Source: Go Auto]

3 replies on “Volkswagen Australia wants satisfaction”

I’m unsure if cutting back the product line will solve customer satisfaction issues. As a current owner of a Mark 5 GTI, service pricing and reliability are my current issues. Last year I paid more on servicing and parts than insurance and registration. Fixed price servicing does make service costs more visible to car buyers but that will only help while the car is under warranty.

My experience suggests more dissatisfaction to continue. I have a golf, I enjoy driving it, and bought it in part because I went with the “quality engineering” profile VW promote. However, internal parts haven’t held together, and within 9 months of the warranty expiring the key mounting has failed (steel failure) – almost $500 for the part and then there’s the coding cost. Not good enough for an item that should last >10 years – certainly not fit for use, and suggests the result of either poor design or poor manufacturing. If you choose to pay a premium to buy and maintain a VW, do so because you enjoy driving it or it’s practical or whatever else tickles your fancy, but don’t do it because you think the extra cost will give you better product quality or that VW will make good such failures.

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