Thursday, July 28, 2016
Kizuna: The Art of Mazda Service
With Mazda priding itself with building cars that create kizuna—a lasting, almost inseparable bond with its owner, it’s imperative that the company would also offer world-class after sales service. At the Mazda ASEAN Media Forum, the company has revealed just how far it has gone to achieve this and where they are taking aftersales parts and service next.
Understanding the unique situation of ASEAN roads for their constant traffic gridlock, penchant for vehicle overloading, and unpredictable flooding, Mazda has put emphasis on the importance of proper car maintenance. To this end, Mazda is investing a huge amount of money to ensure adequate parts supply. The ASEAN HUB PDC (Parts Delivery Center) in Thailand, for instance, stocks around 24,000 different items at its 22,935 square-meter facility.
In addition, Mazda is shifting towards a global certification standard for all service technicians including those from their distributors. Rolled out a decade ago, it’s now fully implemented to all ASEAN markets. This has had tremendous effect on customer service satisfaction. In a recent J.D. Power Customer Service Satisfaction Survey done across the region, Mazda has always landed in the Top 4. In the Philippines, Mazda climbed to the top spot after languishing in the mid-pack when the brand was still handled by its former distributor.
The modular design of the 6G model line-up (the Skyactiv models) also helps in reducing servicing costs with its easy-to-service design as well as lower parts cost due to economies of scale. In Mazda’s own internal studies, they concluded that they have a lower maintenance cost over a 5-year period across the line-up (Mazda2 by 17 percent, Mazda3 by 19 percent, CX-3 by 20 percent, and CX-5 by 24 percent) compared to similar models from Toyota, Honda, and Nissan.
For dealerships, Mazda is shifting to a modular diagnostic system. With just one computer, it can easily connect to the vehicle’s various modules seamlessly. Plus, they are doing away with the traditional paper service manuals and shifting to electronic ones. Along with the most detailed electrical wiring diagram among its peers, this is an enabler for service technicians to do their job quickly and correctly.
And Mazda isn’t stopping there.
Mazda is now focusing on the concept of omotenashi or supreme hospitality to show their gratitude towards customers. Understanding that they must deliver “premium service to their premium customers”, they have now expanded their relationship with their customers.
Instead of a three-step process: before purchase, purchasing, and ownership experience; Mazda is expanding this to a four-step process: before purchase, purchasing, ownership experience, and retire from driving. In short, they are aiming to keep customers as part of the Mazda family even when they stopped driving their vehicle. This neat strategy actually helps keep the “emotional bond’ between car and driver at a high level (it usually goes down a year after purchase). Eventually, they hope this will increase brand loyalty equating to repeat purchases as well.
Current programs such as Mazda Philippines’s Yojin-3 are a part of this expanded ownership experience. And moving forward, Mazda is close to making parts and service support more readily available on its classic and iconic models. This sort of “classic car” program is timely given the company is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2020.
Furthermore, next-generation service technologies are underway which will soon make owning a Mazda even more affordable. Future iterations of the Mazda Connect infotainment system will contain on-board vehicle diagnostics that will result in flexible maintenance based on actual wear-and-tear. Plus, it will actually contain an interactive owner’s manual and can guide the customer in the case of a malfunction. From the dealer perspective, the Global Mazda Service Support System will offer better technician support through detailed, interactive guides to specific problems by simply just plugging in the on-board diagnostics module.
As a brand, Mazda is committed to bringing cars that enrich people’s lives and giving the best customer care is certainly a part of that experience. Through their parts and service strategy program, Mazda is very well on the way to successfully creating kizuna or an emotional bond between car and owner during his whole life.