Can you tell us more about your background and your current role? What prompted you to become a part of the automotive industry?
At a young age, I used to help my brother who was also a vehicle motor technician. I really enjoyed it so from then on, I decided this industry was for me and I enrolled at college after leaving school on an apprenticeship course. I went on to gain City & Guilds Parts 1 & 2 and NVQ Level 3 Certifications. After working with different brands, I moved to the VW Audi Group and moved on to gain my VW & Audi master Technician Status.
How difficult was it to gain Master Technician status? What is expected from a master technician?
After attending and passing many technical and non-technical and specialist training courses, I had to attend a 6 Week intense master tech course covering all different systems in Audi Vehicles like petrol & diesel engines /Brakes/Gearboxes etc. At the end of the six weeks, I had 2 day assessments on Fault Diagnosing and one Day Customer Excellence which involved identifying your customers and questioning techniques.
A master technician’s role involves training other technicians; monitoring and identifying their training needs and passing on brand knowledge. The objective is to get first time fix to a maximum. Developing and nurturing good relationships with customers is also a key part of the role, you need to earn their trust and build a rapport. Also working very closely with the manufacturer with regard to any brand issues is important. No day is ever the same
The automotive industry is currently evolving at a very rapid pace. How important is it for technicians to stay abreast with the latest developments? How often should they go for training?
The new technologies in motor vehicles is rapidly developing, like the hybrid and electric vehicles, and new features like Audi drive assist, so it is always good to be up to date and understand how everything works so training is very important.
In the Middle East, Audi has a team of eight specialized technical and sales management qualified trainers responsible for training over 600 dealer staff in the region every year. Audi sales staff and technicians participate in a variety of practical courses during the year that take place at their dealerships, in Germany at the company headquarters in Ingolstadt and at the Audi Training Centre in Dubai to ensure every member of staff is kept fully up to date on the latest products, technologies and information in order to provide outstanding customer service.
What would be the most important advice that you would give to anyone who is interested in taking up a career in the automotive service industry? What essential qualities should they have and what educational path should they follow?
You have to be interested and have a passion for cars and have the ability to carry out practical and theory tests. Also to do a recognized apprenticeship with the brand you choose to work for.
What is most important when it comes to customer satisfaction with regard to automotive services?
Customer satisfaction is a must in any industry not just the motor industry. When a customer needs to bring their vehicle to us for any reason we have to make this a very pleasant experience and make them a fan of our Audi Brand; we need to understand and try to exceed our customer expectations on each and every visit. A happy customer is a repeat customer.
The concern about sourcing genuine automotive parts is a significant one in this region. What advice would you give to our readers in this regard?
We would advise all car owners to have their cars serviced by official manufacturer dealerships in order to guarantee genuine parts.
All Audi parts offer the same quality standard as the constituent parts used during the manufacture of the vehicle and come with two years warranty to ensure smooth, efficient running of your vehicle. They also help to improve safety – for example, all Audi brake products have excellent braking performance and short braking distances through the use of compatible brake discs and brake pads as well as low-wear brake pads.
Most insurance companies can provide an ‘agency repair’ option, which guarantees that the insurance company will have your car repaired at the manufacturer’s official dealer, and therefore guarantee genuine parts.
In this region, motorists experience extreme temperatures and a diverse range of terrains. What precautions would you advise our readers to take to ensure that their vehicles always perform at their best?
I would say always let a manufacturer Trained Technician carry out any repairs and services as they have the knowledge and all the equipment needed to carry out any repairs to the manufacturer’s standard. With the rise of advance driver assist systems and digitization, this is becoming increasingly important – as the technology continues to evolve, technicians who are not manufacturer or specialist trained technicians may not have the relevant, up-to-date qualifications and expertise required to service and maintain your vehicle correctly.
Vehicle emissions and sustainability are increasingly in focus. What advice would you give to customers to ensure that their vehicles have minimal impact on the environment?
Audi is committed to sustainability and every Audi vehicle is designed to be as fuel efficient as possible. For example, the new Audi S8, which just arrived in our showroom, comes with Audi’s mild hybrid system (MHEV), which works continuously to reduce fuel consumption – fuel savings of up to 0.8 liters per 100 kilometers are possible in everyday driving.
In addition, I would advise customers to always drive efficiently and always keep your vehicle maintained in order to avoid inefficiencies.
Electric vehicles are slowly becoming more popular in this region and Audi has revealed highly ambitious plans for the future in this regard. What are the differences between conventional cars and electrified vehicles, in terms of parts and service?
With Audi’s plans to introduce 12 all-electric vehicles by 2025, we are facing new challenges across our service organization. One of the main differences with an electric vehicle is that you have 2 three phase motor powered by a battery instead of the conventional engine. This transformation towards electric mobility requires new qualifications to ensure we give the best customer satisfaction.
What are the key differences between the UAE and the other markets that you have worked in when it comes to the automotive service industry?
In the UK you have UK nationals training technicians and you work with UK customers, but in the UAE you have different nationalities interacting with local based customers so language barriers can sometimes be a challenge.
What improvements do you think can be made in the automotive service industry in this region, especially with a view towards enhancing customer satisfaction?
Revaluation of workshops and a qualification path to follow for all staff.
You were a part of the team that reached the Audi Twin Cup World Final in Germany. What is the relevance of motorsports when it comes to the development of vehicle technology?
Audi has a rich motor sports heritage and pedigree, and this background provides an extreme platform for testing automobiles for design, safety, performance and reliability.
This is especially evident in the fast-emerging Formula E championship, which held its sixth season opening race in Saudi Arabia last month. With ten manufacturer teams now participating in Formula E – more than any other motorsport series – Formula E is acting as a mobile laboratory progressing electric vehicle technology in road cars.
Audi was one of the first manufactures to get involved with Formula E and, as a result, was also the first to market with a luxury electric road car that was derived from Formula E know-how – the Audi e-tron Quattro.
Manju Mathew, an MBA in marketing, completed publisher training courses from the Oxford Brookes University and New York University. She started with marketing and PR roles before moving on to her current position as a full time writer. Currently living in Dubai, her life as an expat has sharpened her observation skills and flair for writing. She enjoys writing about luxury cars like Ferrari, Lamborghini, etc even if she can only dream of owning them.
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