THE RAC is turning the trend toward downsizing and consolidation on its head with moves to develop customer service centres in several metropolitan locations well advanced.
While many sectors in the customer service industry appear determined to slim down as far as possible, the RAC is embracing a return to the service culture.
The club has recently constructed an operational customer service centre in Balcatta, while construction has started on another in Bibra Lake.
In addition, the RAC has leased a site in Welshpool, which is anticipated to be functional by the end of the year.
RAC manager of support services, Grant Scott, told WA Business News the customer service centres aimed to make life easier for customers, and allowed for automotive repairs to be carried out with the least possible inconvenience.
The idea was derived from a competitor in the eastern States, but enhanced to be more customer friendly, according to Mr Scott.
“The RAC is aiming to get an interface back with the customer,” he said. “Whereas previously customers went to a panel beater to get a car repaired, [now] they can bring their car to an RAC centre and we will take care of all the details.
“We even pay for a cab to get them home and then back to the centre when their car is ready.”
The service centres are strategically located to be accessible to customers. Highly visible branding coupled with a showroom feel adds to the feeling of accessibility.
Customer feedback had so far been positive, according to Mr Scott, as had the fact that no increase in premiums was required to fund them.
In a survey, 98 per cent of customers prefer the new form of service, he said.
The RAC has 63 approved repairers in the Perth metropolitan area, with RAC representatives approaching panel beaters and auto repairers on behalf of the customer.
No repairs are done at the service sites, but all repairers are performance monitored.
Mr Scott said that under the new arrangement the only additional expense for repairers was the cost of car pick-up from the RAC.
To the repairers’, and the customers’, advantage, however, was the fact that customer management issues were undertaken by the RAC.
The RAC intends to undertake a high-profile marketing campaign in late July when the Bibra Lake facility is completed.
The RAC has expanded its staff numbers and has increased operating costs in order to run the centres, but Mr Scott said the benefits of customer retention and the use of the centres as a marketing tool outweighed the costs.
The Balcatta facility was designed by Murray Simcock from Interiors Australia.
“We had to create something with an up-market image where customer service and branding were high on the agenda,” Mr Simcock said.
“The result is a high-end, well-designed building geared completely towards RAC branding and identity, with a clean, people focused almost retail front.”
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