Petra Krivinskas, Head of Customer Service Centre Operations for Volkswagen Group UK tells Customer Experience Magazine about her role, and how she ensures her team is the lifeblood of the business.
For the past 15 years Petra Krivinskas has been digging deep into the automotive industry to find out what makes it tick. She started her career with Ford Motor Company and her work and language skills took her to the Czech Republic as After Sales Marketing Co-ordinator. She joined Volkswagen Group eight years ago.
As Head of Customer Service Centre Operations, Petra is responsible for the strategy development, commercial performance and operational delivery of 330 employees, and oversees the customer service operations for world class automotive brands, Audi, Volkswagen, SEAT, ŠKODA and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles.
She enjoys making a difference, and during her career has implemented a team restructure and is currently working on a three-year strategy and vision for VW Group customer services.
“The automotive industry is a very interesting market. It is very male-dominated but I’ve never felt that because I’m female I’ve been held back,” said Petra.
The Customer Service Centre Team is outsourced to Capita so Petra ensures her way of working has a clear focus and embraces the Volkswagen Group ethos.
“We are mid way through implementing a three-year strategy that has key changes and Customer Service is a key strategic focus. Volkswagen is renowned for its service and drive loyalty. My role in delivering the vision is key.”
The three key objectives for the team are
- Right first time
- Account of choice
- Network collaboration
This means ensuring that the teams are well equipped and the have the right tools and systems. There is a new ‘hot topics’ section on the intranet. To make the working environment a better place to be branding and VW images have livened up the blank walls, break out areas added with free tea and coffee.
“People are the lifeblood of our business so really important that we attract the right people and retain them,” added Petra.
Service Centre Staff receive eight weeks of training before going live, compare to the average 10 days at other service centres. In 2014 Volkswagen Group UK was awarded the Institute Of Customer Service Award for Best Customer Focussed Strategy – Large Enterprise.
To make sure staff know the products they are talking to customers about vehicles arrive on site and staff can take them home for weekend. They also visit the factory in Wolfsburg to give them more of an idea of the scale of the business and what is involved.
Petra explained: “With five brands and a franchise of 750 retailers. We get the retail network into the CSC so they see the other side of the story. Our objective is to be very joined up. We also have open days for retailers and gets teams from the Service Centre into retail – we find this really builds respect.”
A huge believer that Customer Service is a career and not just a job, Petra has also implemented a People Agenda – a career framework that identifies and supports emerging talent through a robust learning and development programme.
“We have clear career pathways – we ensure that the progression path is transparent if people want to develop.”
“We are always looking for the right people to promote and run bespoke courses and offer opportunities for people to develop their skills and knowledge. We have an internal assessment centre and offer things like one-to-one coaching to help us to retain our talent,” she added.
“Never be afraid to share ideas, and always be innovative and creative in your approach. The automotive industry can be quite traditional so sharing fresh thinking and introducing new ways to do business is key to achieving long term business success.”
- The UK automotive industry is made up of over 30 manufacturer/importers selling 2.2 million cars a year
- The automotive industry accounts for 10% of the UK workforce directly and indirectly
- Volkswagen Group UK has a 20% share of the UK market
- Volkswagen Group Customer Service Centre employs 330 staff who deal with an average of 55,000 contracts and handle 10,500 cases a month