India has been through a strict lockdown for over two months and while a lot of us have been working from home, essential service providers have been on the frontline in the fight against coronavirus. In their mission, their vehicles have played a very important role and so, keeping them healthy is essential as well. Tata Motors serviced over 200 vehicles of frontline workers like police and healthcare professionals during the lockdown period. We spoke with Subhajit Roy – Senior General Manager and Head Customer Care (Domestic and International Business), PVBU, Tata Motors, to learn more about how services were extended to customers and how is the brand now ensuring the smooth functioning of its workshops in times of a pandemic.
Q1. How were vehicles of essential service providers serviced, especially in the first three phases of the lockdown?
We introduced an exclusive helpline for frontline COVID workers and healthcare professionals. Customers could dial our service hotline number – 18002095554, for assistance in case of any emergency need. We also took necessary approvals from local authorities to attend vehicles safely and efficiently with all precautionary measures taken. We have attended more than 200+ vehicles of COVID fighters (like Doctors/Police) during the lockdown period across the country.
Subhajit Roy, Senior GM & Head Customer Care, PVBU, Tata Motors
Q2. How are cars being serviced during these times considering social distancing and sanitisation are of utmost importance?
To abide by the necessary safety regulations, customers have lately been requesting sanitization of their vehicles. In order to cater to that request, we have introduced a special initiative titled, ‘No touch by hand’. Under this initiative, we have introduced bio-degradable -disposable steering wheel covers along with driver seat and gear knob covers. These covers are put when the vehicle enters the workshop for servicing and are disposed in front of customers at the time of delivery.
Q3. Has Tata Motors also been providing vehicle pick and drop service to discourage non-essential travel?
There are some customers that have requested for contactless servicing. In such cases, we at Tata Motors are ensuring arranging vehicle pickup and drops and providing the status of the same to them on our customer service app and by SMS. Additionally, all dealers are accepting online payments to reduce physical contact.
Q4. How is Tata Motors ensuring the safety of its staff at workshops?
As a mandatory procedure, it is ensured that all dealer employees and customers entering the workshop premises are being screened for temperature checks, wearing masks and using sanitizers. Sanitizers are placed at the security, reception area and in other parts of the workshop. Along with using face masks and gloves, few employees are also using transparent face shields while interacting with customers. All workplaces are demarcated for sitting and standing purposes ensuring social distancing. Tata Motors has used the lockdown time to design new ways of working, respecting the mandatory safety norms and aggressively adopting digital intervention. Through rigorous sessions conducted virtually, dealer manpower has been oriented and trained on safety precautions while engaging with customers.
Q5. Are workshops currently operating at limited capacity? Can they at present tend to potential repairs beyond routine maintenance?
More than 800 sales touchpoints and 520 out of the 653 workshops as of 10th June 2020 for passenger vehicles have begun operations with a new set of standard operating procedures (SOPs) defining minimal interactions and prudent social distancing norms for engaging with customers and otherwise. Yes, our workshops which are operational can undertake and perform all kinds of mechanical and body shop repairs.
Q6. Were there any challenges that Tata Motors had to overcome to provide services during lockdown?
There were not many challenges as everything was planned as per the situation in hand. Customers were informed about safety tips to take care of their vehicles, our breakdown service assistance and hotline service was attending calls 24X7 and were providing necessary support whenever required. However, during the initial days of lockdown, getting special permission from local authorities in certain markets was a challenge but eventually, it was resolved.
Q7. What benefits and assistance did Tata Motors provide to its customers during the lockdown to ensure customer warranties and free service periods don’t lapse?
In light of the Central Government imposed lockdown due to the COVID-19 outbreak and the resultant inability of our customers to avail maintenance & repairs, as part of their vehicle’s warranty policy, we extended the last date, for customers whose OE warranty and free service period (not km.) were due to expire between 15th March 2020 and 31st May 2020, to 31st July 2020.
Q8. Effect on availability of parts for repair & service and the difference in time needed for such repairs. Also, has there been any difference in the cost of servicing under this new model?
All our spare parts warehouses are operating and supplying parts to workshops wherever needed. Since our dealerships carry a certain inventory level, there is no major effect on parts supply or shortages. There is no separate increase in the cost of service due to COVID.
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