Alphabet has announced a new service and maintenance programme for company cars which utilises telematics and teleservice data direct from the vehicle manufacturer.
Following a successful Teleservice pilot conducted in the UK market since January 2016, the programme uses intelligence provided by a connected vehicle which then enables Alphabet to provide a more proactive and informed service booking experience.
Working in close collaboration with BMW UK, the new service for Alphabet customers is designed to reduce downtime for fleets, as well as improving overall safety and duty of care while reducing end of contract charges.
For fleet drivers, this new Teleservice programme provides a more convenient, intelligent and hassle free experience in terms of the servicing and maintenance of their company car, it says.
Currently this pilot programme is only possible with BMW and selected MINI vehicles in the UK, although Alphabet is also in discussions with other vehicle manufacturers to make the service available ultimately for all makes and models.
Utilising Teleservice service alert data – which is sent to Alphabet autonomously from the vehicle when it requires some form of attention, at the same time the warning light appears for the driver – Alphabet now proactively call or message drivers to arrange the required action or service.
The information transmitted by the vehicle helps Alphabet’s Maintenance team determine the precise type of servicing work required and how long the action will take.
In addition, the vehicle transmits the status of other functions of the car, such as brakes and filters, so that Alphabet can proactively arrange to address any upcoming issues at the same time as the service action.
The driver is provided with a more accurate estimate for how long the service will take, thus reducing vehicle downtime and helping the fleet driver maximise their productive working day with a ‘While You Wait’ service’ where possible.
By proactively addressing other servicing aspects that will require attention in the near future at the same time, the inconvenience of an oil or brake warning light appearing only a few days or weeks after a service (and therefore requiring a repeat visit) can be avoided, it says.
Kit Wisdom, head of technical services at Alphabet, explained: “It enables us to offer drivers in a connected car – in this case, a BMW or MINI - an intelligent, proactive and customer-focused approach to service and maintenance. So far, feedback from drivers has been incredibly positive, highlighting just how quick and convenient the service is for them.
“They’re really impressed that their car tells us what it needs as soon as the warning light comes on and that we reach out to them personally to remedy it.
“Not only does the car tell us what it needs now, but it also tells us the status of other key aspects of the vehicle, such as the oil and brakes. So when we contact the driver we are fully informed about what service action is required and how long it will take.
“We proactively provide a solution to a maintenance requirement they have only recently become aware of and in many cases we provide a ‘While You Wait’ service to remedy it. Thus keeping the driver’s vehicle in top condition and ensuring they get back on the road quickly and safely. In the corporate market the offer of ‘While You Wait’ Servicing is a real cultural change and evidently a welcome one for corporate drivers.”
Other benefits for fleets of this Teleservices initiative include the reassurance that a fleet’s vehicles are maintained to the correct standards, serviced at the right time and as a result avoid unnecessary end of contract cost implications for the customer.
The new service also minimises unplanned servicing, maintenance and repair (SMR) events for fleets and helps alleviate the pressures on fleet managers and drivers that often come with last minute service bookings when routine servicing has been deferred or forgotten.
“Ultimately our aim is to keep our customers and their drivers on the move in the most effective way possible. We’re always looking for new and intelligent ways to do things better for our fleets and their drivers and we’ve worked closely with the Corporate Aftersales team at BMW UK to make this a reality from January this year.”
Matt Sutherland, chief operating officer at Alphabet, continued: “Transforming the service booking experience for the customer is our objective and this innovation brings numerous benefits for both fleets and drivers in terms of safety, convenience and cost.
“Moving forward, the goal is to work collaboratively with all vehicle manufacturers in the UK to deliver the benefits of the Teleservice programme to all our customers and drivers, regardless of the brand of vehicle they’re driving.”
The next phase for this Teleservice initiative, scheduled to start in mid-2016, is to integrate live access to online service booking systems so that a reservation slot can be booked directly into the BMW Centre while the customer is on the phone; further enhancing the experience and convenience for drivers.