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Renault Samsung sees customer satisfaction as winning path

Renault Samsung Motors has gained popularity in the local market with its SM sedan series over the past decade.

Of the automaker’s lineup, the mid-sized sedan SM5 and compact SM3 have long been among the top sellers in their respective segments.

The mid-sized and compact sedan segments collectively account for about 50 percent of Korea’s passenger car market.

Company executives say that the quality of its vehicles is the secret of its success, and a string of awards and consumer survey results back up such claims.

The quality of Renault Samsung’s products has been proven over and over again, with the company scoring the highest marks in Marketing Insight’s annual consumer satisfaction survey every year since 2002.
Workers go through final checks on an SM7 at Renault Samsung Motor’s factory in Busan. (RSM)
Workers go through final checks on an SM7 at Renault Samsung Motor’s factory in Busan. (RSM)

The company has remained ahead of the curve in the annual Customer Satisfaction Index for 10 straight years through 2011.

In addition, it reached the milestone in convincing fashion last year by chalking up the top score in six of eight categories in the yearly evaluation by Marketing Insight.

“Quality needs to start not in the head, but in the heart. Quality is value, and value can be viewed as being one with profits,” a company official said.

“Many companies that gave too little attention to this have paid a high price for the mistake,” he said.

“But, rather than working with a vague notion of quality, companies need to work with the focus on the customer and direct all the resources for the benefit of the customer.”

He said that the company’s quality control system was arranged so that each stage of the manufacturing process has its own quality targets and each goal is closely monitored.

Although the process seems to have hit the right note with consumers, the company plans to fine-tune related processes by applying an upstream approach that focuses on isolating and solving errors that may occur and cause quality issues further down the production process.

However, company officials say that Renault Samsung’s quality control system still has room to improve.

“Our work should not be one of interference and controlling, but providing real help to the production process, so our work load has unavoidably increased. From 2010, the focus has been placed on efficiency as part of our efforts for establishing Renault Samsung’s Quality Integration Process,” a spokesman said.

Speaking about the vision of Renault Samsung, the spokesman said that in addition to maintaining high quality standards, the company should follow its own path and establish a unique brand identity.

Hit by a prolonged slump in vehicle sales, the carmaker seems to be staking everything on its mass production of electric cars from early next year to jockey for position in the nascent market.

It showcased high-end technologies in its first electric car model ― the SM3 Z.E. ― during the 2012 Busan International Motor Show, which was held from May 24-June 3.

It is poised to release the epoch-making electric vehicle in the local market as early as this December or January.

Dubbed the “quick-drop battery exchange system,” the all-electric version of the SM3 will travel up to 160 kilometers on a 250 kilogram lithium-ion battery that can be replaced through a fully automated battery station in less than 90 seconds.

Renault Samsung chief executive Francois Provost has continued to express confidence in his manufacturing team’s capability to meet goals set for electric vehicles.

“I’m very much impressed with the high skills of workers at the Busan plant and other parts of operations,” he said.

Meanwhile, Paris-based Renault Group unveiled the Talisman, a luxury sedan known as the SM7 in Korea, during the 2012 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition last April.

CEO Provost has stressed that the consumer preferences of the Chinese are quite similar to those of Koreans.

By Kim Yon-se (kys@heraldcorp.com)
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