Safety, hygiene, health – these three important aspects of our lives have perhaps become the most critical ones due to the Covid-19 outbreak. There needs to be a paradigm shift in how we all go about our activities keeping in mind these three critical aspects. As an automotive aftermarket player, you must be concerned about assuring your customers and staff about the safety and hygiene issues arising out of the involvement of personnel in the vehicle servicing or associated services. We completely understand this priority of yours.
We now observe that there is a strong need for the contactless pick-up and drop-off services, home delivery, and test drive at home to keep your service operations running smoothly and achieve operational and financial efficiency. At 21North Europ Assistance, it remains our highest priority to maintain the safest standards to ensure we participate in the curbing of the COVID-19 virus. We are thereby introducing robust mechanisms and innovating new strategies to maintain these standards and implementing them across our global service delivery team.
Let’s take a comprehensive look at these measures necessitated in the wake of COVID-19:
Contactless Technology Integration
Our Ambassadors have now stopped using all physical inventory sheets with customers. We, of course, continue to send digital inventory orders to the customer’s phone directly. All service centres are therefore required to ensure that the correct estimates and final invoices are submitted into 21North’s portal.
No physical invoices or receipts are collected from or delivered to the customer. All payment methods have shifted to contactless digital modes only. Customers are advised to avoid all cash or physical card payments in person. This is to ensure no devices exchange hands between ambassadors and clients, and safe distancing can be maintained.
No digital signature is now taken by ambassadors on their phones. Instead, a link is sent directly to the customer’s phone to access the service centre or OEM brand’s white-labeled customer web application, to enable the customers to provide the digital signatures directly via their own mobile phones.
For vehicle delivery, OTP authentication for clients has been implemented to ensure the correct vehicle is being delivered to the right person. At the end of vehicle delivery, customer feedback is collected orally by the ambassador. This is to prevent the exchange of devices between ambassador and client.
Regular Temperature Checks for Ambassadors
Firstly, all our team leaders are provided temperature guns to conduct field audits to ensure the optimum health of drivers. Without these temperature checks, the drivers cannot proceed with their tasks. To make it doubly sure, we trigger a daily in-app notification to all drivers to check body temperatures and report back through the app. Again, without temperature logs, no logins are allowed.
Ensuring Proper Hygiene
We have equipped all drivers in our teams with masks, gloves, seat apron, and hand sanitizer, which all of them are mandatorily required to use while they are on the job. To ensure this is followed strictly, we monitor this activity daily through digital inventory pictures. All drivers are advised to wash their hands with soap in handwashing stations made available at workshops and dealerships before the execution of every task. Additionally, all drivers are required to wash their uniforms and wear a fresh one every day, to further eliminate the possibility of any sort of infection.
Education and Re-training
Education is key to encourage everyone to take responsibility to manage the COVID-19 situation in our community. All our drivers are taught the importance of safety measures, and the consequences of not following them are explained to them.
To maintain and ensure proper hygiene and contactless operations with clients when handling vehicles, our drivers are regularly undergoing rigorous re-training. Drivers are being taught to wipe down surfaces inside the vehicle using anti-bacterial wipes, including steering wheel, gear shift, doorknob, and keys. The transfer of the vehicle keys between the driver and the client or any of the service centre’s staff is now done on a separate platform (e.g. table or seat) to ensure drivers can maintain at least 1m distance from all clients to minimize contact. Electronic car keys which allow keyless entry are now being sealed and kept in a zip-lock bag, to ensure minimal contact with it.
Medical Support to Ambassadors
At times, many of our ambassadors may have questions and concerns relating to COVID-19 or general health-related topics. We have, therefore, set up a Medical helpline supported by an efficient medical team to help answer their questions. We remain committed to assisting our drivers with expert opinions while they are assisting with your customers’ vehicle health needs.
And while we ensure all of this, the reality of the economic situation of our ambassadors, who were reduced to zero income and struggled to meet their daily needs during the initial months of the lockdown, is not lost on us. To cover the basic needs of affected drivers and families, the global teams of 21North Europ Assistance came together to set up a welfare fund through magnanimous voluntary pay cut ranging from 20% – 100% of their salary. These funds are being used to provide supplies of groceries, essentials, medical insurance for COVID-19, and cash contributions.
We believe that through these robust and effective measures, we have left no stone unturned in ensuring that automobile aftermarket services continue to realize operational efficiency and optimum sales volumes while ensuring safety and hygiene, while also supporting our ambassadors financially during the first few months of lockdown. We believe that with alternate technological measures and innovation, the entire automotive aftermarket value chain can take this critical phase of our lifetime as an opportunity to become future-ready.