On to the next horizon
TATA has launched a flurry of new service initiatives, with new model introductions on the cards as well. It’s all about enhancing the experience for an increasingly savvy customer base.
One could almost call 2013 TATA’s “year of the customer”. That’s not to say that the company has been lax in the focus it gave those who choose to run its vehicles. No, it’s simply due to the sheer number of initiatives it launched during the year that place the customer at the centre of everything the company does.
It began with the company’s introduction of TATA Automobile Telematics, a joint operation with MiX Telematics to bring a unique tracking and telematics product to TATA vehicle operators. Shaheer Abrahams, general manager: sales and marketing, explains that the product has been very well accepted by the market. “This is one of the best value-added products that can be seen and experienced by all our customers. The application allows our customers to view data from the telemetry or tracking points of view, as well as to monitor behaviour and overall vehicle performance. The response has been very positive and our relationships have been strengthened through it.”
The next initiative that has been introduced to the customers’ advantage is Horizonext, TATA’s next platform for everything the company does. Introduced at the Johannesburg International Motor Show in October 2013, Horizonext aligns the company on the four pillars of world-class manufacturing; superior quality of products; superior sales experience; competitive aftersales support throughout the entire TATA global network and, finally, provides a superior sales experience for customers.
The most recent initiative is the X-Tend package – a service, sales and spare parts initiative for southern Africa, launched in mid-December. Abrahams explains: “We’re offering this to all our South African customers who provide cross-border transport. If a customer buys his truck here and his operation requires him to go to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), for example, we’re able to provide support throughout his entire route.”
Of course, Tata Africa has distributors serving operators throughout Africa, with the southern African arm including: South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, and Swaziland. Locally, R30 million was invested in the TATA dealer network during 2013 to ensure that the objectives of Horizonext are met. The company currently has 51 dealers (including service dealers) in its network throughout southern Africa. “We’re strengthening our reach and our current network,” Abrahams emphasises.
And Abrahams has no illusions about the importance of the company’s customers. “A definite highlight from 2013 has been the commitment from our customers and how they’ve supported us in our business. We’ve had a strong following and our customer retention has been phenomenal – which has been a big stepping stone in terms of our business. We’ve also been able to penetrate into competitor segments.”
Of course, doing so also requires the correct hardware – and with four new models on the cards for 2014, and one due in 2015, the company is positioning itself to make further inroads. Customers can look forward to the introduction of the Prima 4938 6×4 truck tractor and the 2628 10 m3 in March, followed by the 3338 8×4 tipper in April and the flagship 7548 6×4 long-haul truck tractor in August. In 2015, the five- to 14-tonne Ultra will become available.
All the new models will be assembled at the company’s local plant in Rosslyn, Pretoria, which now has increased capacity and capability to accommodate the new models.
“We’ve noticed that our customers are becoming more sophisticated, showing a drive for technology,” Abrahams alludes. “That’s why we’re supporting our new initiatives with the new product line-ups we’ll be launching.
“In 2013 we experienced positive growth in all of the segments in which we are active. The brand is expecting the market to continue its steady growth, which will bring with it certain opportunities. We’re excited about the new segments of the market in which we will be participating. We intend to be steadfast and committed to our clients in the new sectors of the market while remaining committed to our existing customers,” he sums up.