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Daimler Trucks North America is making headway on a yearlong customer service improvement initiative, opening up more communication channels with its customers and working with dealers to have parts and technicians ready to go when a broken truck reaches the service bay.
The Portland, Ore.-based owner of the Freightliner and Western Star truck brands, wants to “bring faster speed, effectiveness and thoroughness in solving our customers’ most immediate needs,” Paul Romanaggi, DTNA’s chief customer service officer, said in a Nov. 18 conference call.
Efforts to more effectively stage parts at dealers, streamline service authorizations and improve technician productivity are starting to pay off, Romanaggi said.
“We have seen a nice steady clip in 24-hour turnaround,” he said.
Dealers now repair about 60% of the company’s trucks within 24 hours and 45% the same day they are brought in for service, Romanaggi said. That compares with 55% and 41%, respectively, a year ago.
All of the major truck manufacturers are working to reduce the time it takes to repair trucks and provide better customer communications.
Navistar International Corp.’s OnCommand Connection digital fleet-management tool uses geofencing to check when one of its International brand trucks reaches a dealer for service and measures how long it is there. An open tool that fleets use across brands of trucks, OnCommand also monitors rivals’ performance when one of its trucks is parked at a linked service center. Navistar says it has the best 24-hour turnaround performance in the industry.
Daimler is speeding up service through a preauthorization program that allows service centers to launch diagnostic and repair services immediately.
For example, fleets can authorize U.S. and Canadian Freightliner dealers to charge up to a set amount, such as $1,500, Romanaggi said. A dealer would have to contact the fleet if the repair looked to top that. It also must present a detailed report on its work.
“Overall, the program has been a gigantic success. It has eliminated the wait time for a technician to get started on the job because we have the preauthorization ready to go,” he said.
Big fleets also are getting more attention from Daimler. It has created a strike force of 25 fleet service managers that focuses on the top 75 fleets running Daimler equipment.
The fleet manager digitally checks in on broken trucks’ status daily and then works to solve bottlenecks to get the rig back on the road quickly, Romanaggi said.
A Class 8 Freightliner Cascadia with SAE Level 2 automation. (Daimler AG)
It also is working to overcome a hurdle fleets encounter when they have a warranty claim with an equipment supplier rather than Daimler, he said.
Suppliers typically make fleets file separate claims and often have different procedures, Romanaggi said.
“It was a real pain and a real chaos for our customers,” he said.
But Daimler is signing suppliers on to a one-stop system in which fleets file a warranty claim with the truck manufacturer using a single system. Daimler pays out and then collects the money from the supplier, Romanaggi said.
Daimler’s parts and service business has fully rebounded from the slump created by the COVID-19 pandemic and is running about 5% ahead of where it was a year ago, he said.
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