IAG announced that it was to introduce a trial with partner repairers 'to test cutting edge technologies and streamlined processes to further improve quality, provide greater customer experience and return cars back on the road quicker' back in August 2018.
'Drop and go' centres were established at three sites, SmashTec in Marrickville, Sydney and Smash Repair Solutions (SRS) in Melbourne and Underwood, Brisbane. Repairhub is a joint venture between IAG, RACV, and two existing partners, SRS and SmashTec.
While IAG reports increased customer satisfaction with the drop and go concept where customers have their car assessed on the the spot and pick up their hire car or taxi, a new trial with NRMA motoring services in Seven Hills, Sydney has been described as the next evolution of the trial and is calleda Customer Hub.
It's another trial but this time with NRMA Motoring Services. I visited the pilot location, the NRMA Motorserve Car Servicing & Repairs centre in Western Sydney last week. Showing me around was IAG's Steven Fitzpatrick, executive general manager motor repair model, Troy Johns, industry relations, Max McCoy from the motor supply chain team and Smash Repair Solutions' Veronica Jory.
The proposition is how can we provide an effortless customer experience?
Fitzpatrick outlined the concept: “The proposition is how can we provide an effortless customer experience? How do you take away the multiple trips that customers currently undertake to a repairer. How do you make sure the customer is getting the right hire car options and so forth? So we're having those conversations with the customer. The aim is to provide an effortless customer experience and keeping them fully informed every step of the way.
“Because we have essentially a shared brand with the NRMA, both members and customers trust the NRMA proposition and it makes sense to have the customers come here.
One of the things we're testing here is that if the customer comes in for some insurance work and their car service is due, 'we' can take care of that too. We can provide an end to end motoring experience as an NRMA proposition.
“So we're starting to blend both organisations' capabilities in terms of repairing vehicles as well as car servicing. What we're finding is that customers are responding very positively. Customers don't really see the two NRMAs as different, so it's a great opportunity for both of us to provide a seamless interaction.
“Today it can be time-consuming for a customer who has had an accident. You have to turn up to the repair shop and if the repair shop is too busy you have to go to another repair shop. They do a quote, it needs to get assessed, then they have to order parts... we're trying to eliminate the multiple steps that a customer currently takes and make it easy and a good experience.
“So if we can handle all the customer interaction, then we can let the repairers do what they do best – repair vehicles to a high quality standard. The repairers don't have the arguments with the customers over what is accident damage, they don't have to follow up as much.
If there is a delay, such as parts not turning up, in terms of extending the hire car for the customer we can do that automatically without them having to call in to our call centre.”
Max McCoy is co-ordinating the test and learn, which has been operating out of the Seven Hills site for around three months.
“This Motorserve business is one 23 Motorserve businesses NRMA has in NSW and this is the first one built– it's been going for about 10 years. It carries out mechanical repairs for 25 cars per day. It's ideal for this trial because it's large and has warehouse space for hire cars and damaged vehicles.
“Basically IAG is using the facility purely as an assessment and drop off site. It has a couple of desks on one side of the building and the NRMA Motoring service desks are on the other side.
“So when a customer lodges their claim we identify certain triggers in the claim that it's a driveable vehicle. We ring them to tell them to come here having talked through the damage and ensured this site is suitable for them. We talk through their mobility needs whether its a hire car or a taxi home.
When the car comes in we have a quick conversation with the customer, and that is usually the same person who has spoken to them on the phone. Then the assessor comes and walks through with the customer looking at existing damage and accident damage and talks about what the repair process will be for that vehicle”
Using the workshop management system the vehicle is processed then put on a tow truck (or driven) to the allocated repairer in the IAG network.
Currently there are two shops in the trial for the Seven Hills centre – SmashCare down the road and Smash Repair Solutions (SRS) in Castle Hill.
McCoy said: “We try to get around 40 cars a week through this centre. Obviously we get cars coming in that are out of scope because the customer doesn't realise how bad the damage is. For those that are in scope 20-25 cars per week will go to SRS and SmashCare and the rest are sent to the other shops that have capacity.”
“It's a hybrid system at the moment,” said Fitzpatrick, “ and because it's a trial we are keeping the numbers small to ensure we get the customer experience right. We can't go too big too fast. It's all about how we manage the customer experience and how do we help our partners better manage their repair business?”
Veronica Jory from SRS said: “We can see what's needed for the cars coming to us through the system, so we take the opportunity to order the parts before the car is sent to us and schedule them for delivery as the car arrives. This helps speed up cycle times.”
Brett Shelton is one of two assessors working at the Seven Hills site. He explained: “After the customer is checked in we look at the car to establish the accident damage and what isn't from the accident and whether they need a second claim or a quote for that damage. We've got the process down to about 10-15 minutes – after all they've got their day to get on with too.
Most of the customer feedback that we are getting is really positive, they're really happy with the service, the fact that it's a one-stop shop. They're not having to go to the repairers get a scope of works done and then be told to come back in two weeks. They're dropping the car off once, it's getting inspected by us at the beginning and end of the repair. They really like that as well – that's a second person that's looking at it – so we're making sure our quality is above standard.”
The trial has increased customer satisfaction by 30% with customers giving 9 or even 10 out of 10 for their experience. While there are still processes and logistics to iron out, the trial is already deemed a great success and IAG will likely be looking to duplicate the process in other areas of New South Wales in the future.