Improving technical quality in repair service to achieve customer satisfaction in automotive after-sales service


Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

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  • Kwok Kei TONG


Awarding Institution
Award date3 Oct 2011


Hong Kong has gone through a rapid change in her economy from industrial to service base during the last two decades. The service industry has played a major role in determining the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the city and the growth trend can be well explained from the figures of 85.7% in 1998 to 92.3% in 2007. In order to run a service business successfully, it is essential to provide excellent service quality so as to satisfy the customers' need. For the after-sales service of the motor industry, there are keen competitions among the various number of after-sales service dealers. Generally, the after-sales service is linked up with parts supply and vehicle repair or maintenance service (conclusively named as after-sales repair service). Such a relationship has always been considered as one of the major factors in affecting the customers' decision when buying a new vehicle. After from the high expectation from customers, the car manufacturers shall also demand seriously a high standard of after-sales service from their dealers. Apart from these two parties, the dealers also have to encounter the competition from small garages which tend to attract customers with aged vehicles by offering service at a highly competitive price. Therefore, the service dealers nowadays have to meet the challenge of not only providing the best service to the customers but also maintaining the business in a sustainable manner. There are lots of service dimensions that contribute to service quality and customer satisfaction. Through literature review and interviews with professional of the industry, the technical quality in after-sales repair service, i.e. to fix it right the first time (F-1) in order to avert repeated repair is regarded as the principal factor of the overall quality level in automotive after-sales repair service. When customers are satisfied with the service, the business will sustain. This project proposes a framework on how to improve the technical quality in repair service with adoption of knowledge sharing and transfer in automotive after-sales service industry. The project uses the action research method and applies to one of Hong Kong's leading automotive after-sales dealers, Dah Chong Hong (MSC) Ltd., hereafter called DCHMSC, for illustration. A general customer satisfaction survey conducted in year 2005 revealed that the Company had a low customer satisfaction score among the market. At last, the Company was able to improve the overall service quality through the improvement of technical quality in after-sales repair service. Apart from taking into account of the non-technical aspects like the attitude of the service personnel in order to narrow down the project scope to the improvement of technical quality in repair service of after-sales service, the project aims at exploring the critical steps within the overall after-sales service process. Based on customer complaints, feedbacks and commended cases on repeated repair or dissatisfaction with the workmanship in service, investigation is carried out into these cases to differentiate the types of quality problems so as to conclude the most common causes that have led to non F-1 (fix it right the first time) or repeated repairs. The two major results are identified as: 1) Previous repair is not effective, and 2) Problems occurred after periodical maintenance is done. An in-depth analysis is conducted to identify the possible causes to these deficiencies. The latter part of the project suggests and establishes the roadmap for implementation of improvement / remedial actions with the emphasis being put on knowledge sharing and transfer among the workshop mechanics, and service process enhancements. This is because knowledge assets play an important role in sustaining the competitive advantage of the companies in business environment nowadays. More importantly, knowledge and skills are the indispensable elements in performing vehicle repair and maintenance service. A knowledge map is then used for analysis on the knowledge needs and requirements by service people within the after-sales service process. Another social network analysis tool, named Applied Graphic and Network Analysis (AGNA), is adopted to identify the role of individuals within the service network. AGNA also helps to determinate on how knowledge should be transferred and shared among the service network in order to achieve the best and effective result in improving the technical quality in repair services. Finally, the enhancements in service process help to minimize any human mistake and service inconsistency. The effectiveness of the improvement actions is then measured by two different approaches, 1) quality of repair / maintenance through customer's feedback, and survey measurements; and 2) feedback from the workshop mechanics as being the end users on the efficacy of improvement actions implemented. The innovation of this EngD project aims at exploring / analyzing knowledge application and sharing in a systematic approach called AS-QiKi with the result of improving the technical quality in repair service and eventually the overall after-sales service quality of motor industry. As long as the research nature of the project is of industrial base, the framework delivered shall contribute to the motor industry by means of providing solutions to similar problems encountered by service dealers and workshops of similar scale or capacity.

    Research areas

  • Maintenance and repair, Automobiles, Customer services, Automobile industry and trade, Management