Since the satisfaction of our customers depends to a large extent on the quality of our products and services, quality assurance is a very important activity in the Group. In fiscal year 2009, it again played a key role in the successful launch of over 30 models Group-wide as well as a large number of new engines and components.
Our Group brands principally rate the quality of a product on its reliability and appeal, but also on the basis of the after-sales service provided. We have set ourselves the goal of becoming a product quality leader in the global market.
For the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand, for instance, the Sales and Quality Assurance divisions have set up a customer satisfaction program in collaboration with Technical Engineering in which concrete improvement measures are defined and implemented with the involvement of importers and sales companies for key markets such as Germany, China and Brazil. Examples include campaigns to improve services in sales and after-sales service, as well as new customer-oriented and market-specific product solutions. We are beginning to see the fruits of our efforts in markets such as the United States, where the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand now enjoys a much higher position in the customer satisfaction ranking developed by market research institute J.D. Power. The long-term program is scheduled to be rolled out in South Africa and Mexico in 2010 and extended to all regions and markets in the coming years. Similar customer satisfaction programs are being implemented by the Audi and Škoda brands.
The large number of production start-ups across all Group brands and corporate locations attested to Volkswagen’s high level of quality again in 2009 and enabled the number of repairs to be maintained at a consistently low level.
We also continued to enhance our customer service processes in 2009. Our improved repair service and higher product quality in particular went a long way towards reducing the number of repeat repairs. In order to progressively increase customer satisfaction, the specialist areas, importers and sales companies participating in the customer satisfaction program are developing globally applicable standards for the processes – from product development to sales to after-sales service. The “Customer Satisfaction Forum” comprising representatives from the Quality Assurance, Sales and Technical Engineering divisions coordinates the systematic implementation of these measures. This interdisciplinary approach enables projects that have proven to be effective in one market to be successfully implemented in other markets.
Challenges facing Quality Assurance
One of the greatest challenges facing Quality Assurance is the growing number of production facilities and market-specific model derivatives throughout the Group worldwide. These require consistent alignment of all elements along the value chain with standardized processes that must be continually optimized.
For strategic growth markets such as India, the Group’s products need to be tailored to local customer and market requirements and still meet Volkswagen’s quality standards. To achieve this, the Group puts a lot of effort into developing new concepts and approaches in consultation with all divisions involved. Its goal is to be the “best of local” as regards reliability, functionality and appeal; this means being active at the same or a higher level than Volkswagen's best competitor in each case.
In addition, the ever-growing number of equipment features and innovations continually presents Quality Assurance with fresh challenges. Enhanced security, comfort and electronics systems, as well as new drive technologies, are increasingly being included in volume models as well. The integration of these systems and technologies must be tested early on in the concept phase so that reliability, safety and trouble-free functionality are guaranteed.