Lexus aftersales 'consultants' in the UK are being given a taste of the luxury living enjoyed by their customers.

Dealership staff are being pampered at top class hotels as part of a programme to raise customer care, experiencing for themselves the kind of quality and service their clients enjoy and expect, which, Lexus GB said, will help them hone their own customer care skills.

The hotel visits include training sessions. One is the so-called "trust" scenario, where, for example, a person is talked through the procedure for shaving a blindfolded colleague with what they believe to be a cut-throat razor. This, Lexus claims, relates to the way in which new customers need to be introduced step-by-step to the aftersales procedure, without any risk of blood-letting.

Lexus GB has also launched a new customer relations management programme.

Included in a series of measures being phased in across the network of 53 dealers is a system for booking service appointments that is more time-efficient and better tailored to each motorist's personal preferences. Central to this programme is the setting up of a national call centre.

Thousands of Lexus customers are being invited to spend the day at luxury spa hotels around the country to enjoy the facilities and share their opinions on where the Toyota luxury brand is is succeeding and where it could do better.

The customer relations management programme was initiated in response to customers' requests for the car maker itself to be more closely involved in the aftersales process. To achieve this, the call centre has access to a comprehensive database for each dealership, including the booking diary, the technicians available and the courtesy car fleet. It also has access to the customer database for each centre, and this will be 'cleansed' to ensure it includes only current owners.

Working from the updated database, the centre will call each customer to offer a service or MoT appointment, provide a quotation for the work, make an online booking with the appropriate dealership, allocate a technician to the job and organise a courtesy car if required. When the booking date arrives, the customer receives a reminder call or text message.

The programme is now in operation at 22 centres, with 30 expected to be covered by the end of year. The concept has been pioneered by Lexus GB and has been shown to colleagues in the USA, the top global market for the brand.

Lexus GB national aftersales manager Steve Penson said: "We believe the programme is the only one of its kind to be offered by a prestige manufacturer.

"Using the call centre lets us obtain direct feedback from our customers about what we are doing well and what we could do better and we can also use the system to develop an individual aftersales requirements profile for each Lexus owner."

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