It’s official: Hino cares!

One of the enduring themes at this year’s Johannesburg International Motor Show was that of after-sales service, with truck manufacturers realising that this is the key differentiator. After all, there are lots of good trucks out there – sales are concluded thanks to superior after-sales service and personal relationships.

Hino South Africa was ever so smart. Instead of getting lost in the JIMS frenzy (… whew, I’m glad it’s over …), we were invited to Toyota before the show even opened its doors – and were privy to some very good news (especially for Hino customers).

The company has come up with a bundle of after-sales offerings which all fall under an umbrella known as HinoCare. Significantly, the company maintains that the programme will “slash operating costs and provide even higher levels of peace of mind” for owners of its trucks.

Is this marketing mumbo-jumbo or reality? Thankfully, the latter seems to apply. So what is HinoCare all about?

According to Hino vice-president, Dr Casper Kruger, customers take two factors into consideration when they purchase a truck. “The single most important factor is the longevity of a truck. The second factor is how much it will cost,” he explains.

When it comes to the former, Kruger says Hino trucks have proven themselves “to be equal to, or better, than any other trucks in the market”. When it came to the latter, Hino embarked on a study to reduce operating costs – and the result is HinoCare. Kruger is careful to point out that HinoCare is not revolutionary. “The elements are not unique or new; they have been enhanced – and we believe that the end result will find favour with customers,” he maintains.

So what are these enhancements? According to Dewald Olivier, senior manager for Hino marketing planning & customer service, HinoCare is built around three pillars. “The first is the warranty. We have increased the warranty on the Hino 300 and 500 to a two year unlimited warranty, doubling the warranty period in this process,” he reveals. The 700 Series warranty is unchanged at one year/unlimited kilometres, with a drivetrain warranty for the second year or 300 000 km.

The second pillar is service intervals. “As of today we are launching a Hino genuine motor oil. Specifically blended in conjunction with Hino Japan and Castrol, it allows for drain intervals to be extended,” Olivier explains.

Genuine Motor Oil – which is competitively priced (it’s on par with other oils, says Olivier) – permits the doubling of oil change intervals. The intervals on the 300 Series trucks increase from 10 000 km to 20 000 km, while the 500 Series interval will be every 30 000 km instead of 15 000 km. The 700 Series extra-heavy truck range will require an oil change every 40 000 km instead of the current 20 000 km.

However, oil change intervals are very dependent on operating conditions. “It is therefore important that operators discuss the conditions under which their vehicles operate, and their particular requirements with a Hino dealer to ensure engine life is not compromised. If, for instance, most of the time is being spent off road, the extended interval would not necessarily apply,” Olivier stresses.

The revised oil change intervals apply to all new trucks sold from October 1, 2011 and are limited to those units being serviced at Hino dealerships. The oil will not be sold separately, other than in top-up cans, and is only available at dealerships (not at forecourts).

The third pillar pertains to breakdowns. “We never like to admit it, but – if you are in the trucking business – things tend to go wrong at some point in time,” notes Olivier with a wry smile. Bearing this in mind, Hino has developed a centralised call centre for breakdowns. It is staffed by seven people, of whom two are qualified technicians, and is available 24 hours a day.

“We are determined to offer exceptional customer service. For instance, clients will receive a sms every half-hour, updating them as to progress,” explains Olivier.

The objective of the service, which includes South Africa and neighbouring countries in the Customs Union, is to assist a Hino customer in the event of a truck breaking down, regardless of the time or the place. The service applies to all trucks within warranty and alternative arrangements can be made for trucks that are out of warranty.

When the driver of a Hino truck has a breakdown he will phone the Hino call centre and no longer the nearest dealer. The call will be answered by a trained incident coordinator who then arranges assistance, either with a towing contractor or with a Hino dealer.

Should the dealer’s technician on duty not be contactable, the call will be elevated to the dealer service manager, then to the dealer principal, then to Hino’s national service manager and, finally, to the Hino vice-president to ensure action is taken as soon as possible.

Hino will cover all breakdown costs for trucks within warranty.

Since July 1, 2011, all Hino trucks have also been micro-dotted at the manufacturing facility in Prospecton, Durban. International statistics indicate that the use of microdot systems can lead to a decrease of 50 to 60% in the number of stolen or hijacked vehicles, and to an improvement of more than 55% in recoveries.

“We at Hino are delighted that HinoCare has been launched, as it is the result of long negotiations and studies to ensure we provide the best possible service to our customers and are more than competitive with our rivals,” says Kruger.

He adds that this is just the beginning of Hino’s after-sales offering. “We will introduce further improvements next year. This is a continuous road. We have a social responsibility to continue cutting costs. Ultimately, we want customers to know that they can have complete trust in our products,” he concludes.

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