Cross runs hot at Kia cup

Travis Cross (centre) with Kia NZ GM, Todd McDonald, (left) and Andrew Simms Botany dealer principal, Matthew Wales (right) - PHOTO Christel Kelly Moore
Travis Cross (centre) with Kia NZ GM, Todd McDonald (left) and Andrew Simms Botany dealer principal, Matthew Wales (right) – PHOTO Christel Kelly Moore

‘World leading quality customer service’ – it’s a claim often made but one which is often difficult to substantiate. And yet, when Auckland’s Andrew Simms Botany asserts that it offers such levels of service, the dealership now has a title to prove it!

And yet, despite finishing first in the Asia/Pacific region and 11th overall at the recent Kia Service Advisor Skills World Cup in Seoul, senior service advisor, Travis Cross is as humble as they come.

“I was surprised to finish first in the region and pretty happy with the result against the rest of the world,” he says. “There was a lot of competition up there with entrants from 57 countries, so to perform as well as I did was a good result. To me, it was more about taking advantage of a good opportunity.”

Travis earned his ticket to Korea after claiming top spot at the national finals in May. In Seoul, the competition comprised a written test, as well as a video scenario and role play, both designed to replicate customer experiences.

“You can always study for the written test but we were thrown in at the deep end with the role play. We were given a time frame in which to ensure the customer walked away happy but not a lot of information; I felt a bit like a possum caught in the headlights!

“It’s certainly helped me to have technical experience but we also have some very successful advisors from non technical backgrounds too… it all came down to providing the best in customer service.”

While Mr Cross may care for Kia customers, at home it’s a German engine which spins his wheels.

“I’m as much a car junkie as the next guy, I guess,” he laughs. “And I certainly don’t mind a nice car! I’m pretty much driving my dream vehicle [a BMW M3] already. It’s small with a V8 – big on power; definitely not a bad contraption to drive, that’s for sure.”

He says there’s no particular secret to his success; there is only one way to reap rewards in any trade.

“That’s how I came into this business. There were five apprentices who came through and I was selected because I knuckled down, and if I was asked to do something, I did it. I think it all comes down to hard work and common sense; the rest can be taught.”

As a result of this approach, Travis is on the move, promoted to service manager at Andrew Simms’ Newmarket dealership, but he doubts he will compete in Korea again.

“More than likely [Kia New Zealand] will want to send someone new next time. It’s obviously nice to do so well, but it’s really more about exposing [contestants] to the experience, giving them opportunity to see where the brand comes from,” he says.

“The trip was quite an eye-opener. We did a walk-through of one of Kia’s manufacturing facilities. They push out something like three brand new cars every 74 seconds; that’s two and a half thousand cars a day just out of one facility. It’s quite the big machine at work!”