Volkswagen, one of the world's most popular car manufacturers, has turned to MicroTouch's high-performance capacitive touch technology to offer a major breakthrough in round-the-clock customer service. The innovative self-service terminal, developed by Siemens Nixdorf, makes the whole process of checking in a car for service much easier. Volkswagen's Service Auto-Mat (SAM) is as straightforward and as easy to use as an ATM.
SAM allows Volkswagen customers to check their cars in for service at any
time of the day or night, 365 days of the year, and offers them a
personalized deposit box for car keys and papers. In addition, it provides a
fast self-service, credit-card payment service, and thus, rapid pick-up after
In automating these services, SAM dramatically cuts customer waiting time, thus eliminating the before 9 a.m. and after 6 p.m. rushes when 80% of all
cars are dropped in for service. More than 100 SAM terminals are already in use
in Volkswagen dealerships throughout six European countries, including
Germany, Austria, and Holland. These terminals are soon to be rolled out in
the United States and the total in use worldwide is likely to grow to well over 1,000 terminals.
Siemens and Volkswagen opted for touchscreen technology for this
customer-access application for its ease of use and natural, intuitive
nature. They chose MicroTouch's capacitive technology for its reliability
and high performance.
"We know from previous high profile projects undertaken with MicroTouch that
its capacitive technology is the best in terms of reliability and
performance. Although there are other, less expensive solutions on the market — one of which Volkswagen itself has used in the past — MicroTouch's long term
performance has proven to be excellent," says Reinhard Steinrücke, SAM
project manager at Siemens.
Customer loyalty through good customer service is becoming increasingly
important in the fiercely competitive car industry. Not only does the new
system make check-in and pick-up more efficient, it also provides Volkswagen
with a powerful multimedia marketing tool.
The touchscreen solution is easily integrated into
networks. As a result, the dealer can present attractive information on new cars, show easily the availability of used cars, and offer a wealth of additional
customer benefits. These benefits include combining details of service deals
available with the offer of a car rental, present details of car accessories, and special finance deals.
All of these options are self-service so customers can browse through
them at their leisure without feeling pressured. In addition, the SAM terminal is
attractively designed to suit the décor of the Volkswagen show rooms and, in
many instances, occupies a prominent place at the front of the showroom.
Due to the increased efficiency, VW plans to extend the SAM into its car
rental agencies, where customers experience the same problems of long waits
at peak times. The SAM terminals are to be used in an experimental car
rental program based at Hannover student residences. Thanks to this
initiative, the whole car rental process will be automated. The customer is
able to pick up the keys of a desired VW rental car from the SAM terminal. A
transmitter in the car will calculate the length of rental and mileage and
will pass this information automatically to the SAM terminal on return. The
SAM will calculate the cost of the rental and the customer can then use a
credit card to pay for the car at any time, day or night.
Siegfried Kleine-Besten, project manager at Volkswagen, believes that SAM
delivers true business benefit immediately and plays an important role in
its technology strategies.
"With this touchscreen project, we can now satisfy the demands of our
customers for longer opening hours at very little expense. It also means
that our employees can focus on solving more complex customer issues by
reducing the time spent on routine tasks," says Kleine-Besten.