In Elektro Partner’s 30-year long history, one thing has never changed and never will change! It is that help and support are integrated in our concept..
Regardless of what you have purchased, you can count on excellent user support
This means that whether we have provided a software subscription on data or an update of a diagnostic tool or we have sold a physical product, you can rely on first class support as a customer. It is part of our DNA. It is the backbone of our company.
Self-diagnosis was our specialty
In these days, it is 20 years since Elektro Partner started as Autodata distributor in Denmark. Until then, Elektro Partner had mostly focused on the self-diagnosis of the cars. Up until then, our hotline was to some extent limited to what had to do with self-diagnosis. This, even though our area of interest covered the entire car and all its systems, electrical as well as mechanical. It is not possible to interpret a fault code from an engine control unit without having a deep understanding of what happens in a combustion engine!
As an Autodata distributor, we needed to expand
As an Autodata distributor, we now needed to expand our hotline service to cover the entire car. This was not difficult, since our interests and knowledge were already at this level. At the time, the company consisted of five employees and an accountant, one who was even able to answer certain automotive questions. I think you could call the small team 'car nerds' without exaggerating too much.
Workshop 2000 - our first internal hotline system
The first dedicated hotline supporters were hired in that period, and we were now able to offer the complete hotline service. As part of it, we set up an internal database for hotline and support (Workshop 2000). Here, we could note the customer question, regardless whether the question came via our website, or whether it came by telephone from the customer.
This system worked fine as long as the daily number of questions to our hotline was limited to some tens. But as the questions began to increase both in number and complexity, we realised that we needed a better system. This was necessitated by new car models with increasingly complex systems. Gradually, these vehicles began to require an internal knowledge database. This need was reinforced by the fact that during that time we employed more and more people in the support department and that we had an explosive growth in the number of new customers.
0-1000 in 3 years. Workshop 2003 became a necessity
In just 3 years, we got 1000 new subscriptions to Autodata technical data. But not only that, we also got 1000 new customers to our diagnostic solution from TEXA. Quite quickly, we realised that our internal system needed additional upgrades. So, Workshop 2003 was created, a database that all groups could use - hotline, sales and administration. This solution provided, regardless of department, an overview of what data our customers had access to, and orders. It had become a major problem for us, that a customer who had purchased an Autodata subscription through us felt entitled to ask for help with diagnostic tasks using diagnostic tools, we had not delivered. Conversely, diagnostic tool customers with a TEXA felt entitled to ask questions regarding technical data, without having an Autodata subscription with us. Without taking control of this, Elektro Partner would not have existed today.
We could not ignore our customers’ requests for help, we had to find a solution
For the first time in the history of Elektro Partner, we were challenged by our explosive growth. We could not ignore our customers’ requests for help. The development was so immense that we had to move our foot from the accelerator pedal to the brake pedal to not push our company over the precipice. More employees were struck down by stress, and I did not want to lend my name to this as an employer. I, myself, was also a few millimetres from being struck down by stress during that period. Something had to be done.
The stress problem was caused by hotline and support enquiries that came in over the phone
Particularly the questions that came in over the phone were problematic. Not even the most skilled hotline supporter can know everything about all cars, and when an automotive question is asked over the phone, the person who receives the question is most likely the one who tries to answer. We had gradually accumulated a large quantity of brand- and system-specific knowledge, initially controlled in an ingenious folder system, which as it grew no one had the full overview of.
By analysing the things that were straining our hotline, we discovered that increasingly more questions to our hotline had no answer in our products. We received more and more of this type of questions that were not related to our products, but which came to us because our colleagues in the industry did not have the solution in their products either. These were specific questions such as: "I want to code injectors in this Ford with Delphi injectors, but I am not succeeding." I wonder why the customer failed in this task. We had to start making descriptions of these things, in easily read technical bulletins. Initially to help ourselves.
Our own bulletin production with solutions are initiated
As incoming questions became increasingly specific, we realised that the customers needed to be able to find the answer to such questions themselves, - that our internal database became external. That started AutoFrontal. In 2004 and 2005, initial attempts to create an external "solution and fault database" were tested together with smaller groups of garages. They were satisfied, and that encouraged us to go "all-in".
In December 2006, the first official version of AutoFrontal was launched
In December 2006, the first official version of AutoFrontal was launched as a free solution to our customers. This was a milestone in the history of Elektro Partner!
We did this, partly to relieve our hotline and support departments regarding incoming cases, and partly so that our own technical support team had a safe place to store their own notes. Now, everything we had stored in internal systems could be found, tips and tricks could be retrieved in seconds and kept updated. When we emptied our internal hotline database of tips and tricks to different solutions, we were amazed about how many times, we had given the same answers to the same questions, and that was a wake-up call for us. Now, this type of question could be answered “Please see bulletin No. 1230”, which saved time for both parties. NOW, we had a hotline solution that worked and that was available 24 hours a day.
The same response over and over was a wake-up call, online hotline via AutoFrontal the solution
This helped us understand the importance of producing simple and precise answers to various types of questions asked in our hotline, particularly component programming and adaptation related questions started to increase in numbers, because our co-workers clearly possessed great knowledge regarding this. The word spread fast in the automotive industry, faster than we had anticipated. Even though the content in AutoFrontal initially was limited, Danish and Norwegian garages began to get used to checking in AutoFrontal as part of their daily work. And when AutoFrontal became the portal and the entrance/door to our hotline, this really took off.
There is no point in having a bulletin with the solution, if no one can find it
The fault code/component programming and adaptation related questions were quickly followed by troubleshooting related bulletins. This, because our support started seeing more and more questions due to garages getting lost in the troubleshooting and ending up replacing parts that were ok. Therefore, we started making technical bulletins with headlines that contained the typical symptoms of the fault and a short description of the solution. And gradually, more and more fault codes were attached to make them even more searchable.
We started collecting and describing tasks that we saw carried out incorrectly or without enough experience with the system or component in question, and which therefore could have severe consequences for the garage in terms of lost working hours because the task had to be redone. From 2007-2015, we stored everything based on these criteria. As we began to receive inquiries from wholesalers in foreign countries about using our system as a platform, more hotline centres connected via the AutoFrontal platform became a reality. And with this, the wish for an AutoFrontal online version became an even more important element in the forward-looking development of AutoFrontal.
More hotline centres = AutoFrontal online
AutoFrontal online allows us to correct and upload new material more regularly and at shorter intervals. The new online platform encouraged us to speed up our production. New people joined the AutoFrontal team, whose job it is to develop and refine the concept. This led, among other things, to new ideas implemented such as Measuring methods, which allow our customers to quickly get an overview over new complicated systems. This improved the garage’s ability to carry out troubleshooting in systems that were not included in the original mechanic training, or that provided the possibility to gain experience from available in-service training courses.
AutoFrontal = forøget kompetence
During recent years, the gap between knowledge in garages and the available information in diagnostic tools and data programs has grown. The need for knowledge and competence to service and repair cars running in streets and alleys has increased tremendously over recent years. So, today one of the main purposes of AutoFrontal is to provide easy access to model specific knowledge and to focus on topics and questions that cannot be answered by the systems normally accessible to the aftermarket.
We will gather and pass on experience
The fact that we today can call ourselves one of Europe’s largest automotive hotline centres, gives us an exceptionally large experience database and an overview of what specific knowledge the garages lack.
Thanks to our hotline, we can always keep our finger on the pulse regarding everyday life in garages.
Unlike many other companies, we choose to share all the knowledge we harvest through AutoFrontal and partly through social media, too.
As cars move towards more and more complex systems and electric/hybrid cars become more common, too, we see the increasing need of knowledge sharing through experience. Most car manufacturers and suppliers who provide training materials describe how things work when they are flawless. This is necessary to make a diagnosis. However, we see that the training materials we gather in our database also contain descriptions and symptoms of what typically goes wrong with the systems.
Teaching at eye level
Consequently, we have made an extension to our buildings at Trehøjevej in Grindsted, the purpose of which is to provide the best possible surroundings for self-study and for organising training courses.
In the future, we intend to bridge even more between specific bulletins and general measurement procedures and system descriptions (measuring methods) as there are already an exorbitant amount of systems to keep track of. A future of electrification of our cars will not reduce the need. Therefore, we bring focus on expanding our general measurement procedures in measuring methods in all systems. Several technical schools have already discovered the benefit of using AutoFrontal in their teaching. Young people usually find it easy to relate to pictures of faulty mechanical components, and there are thousands of examples in AutoFrontal. Measuring methods is a reference work that all mechanics can bring via their PC or telephone when they face the problem, or even better - the day before when the mechanic is preparing for next day’s challenge.