Audi Cam is like YouTube for UK service bays

Audi UK has introduced the Audi Cam, a new – and for owners, hopefully more informative and reliable – way to interact with service advisors and technicians. After a car is dropped off, technicians will use a Flip-like camera to videotape and provide audio commentary for any issues diagnosed. Each problem gets its own clip to keep file sizes small, then the video is uploaded to a private, PIN-coded page just for the owner.

The owner can then watch the video (or videos) with each repair ranked from 'For Info' to 'Urgent' and attached with out-the-door pricing. The owner can agree to or decline selected repairs or follow up with a phone call from the same page. There's even a profile section in case you'd like to get to know Buford, the gent who'll be getting grubby working on your car.

This is on top of the Audi Cam introduced to the UK two years ago, which hooked up technicians with two-way radios and cameras that streamed video while they worked, so that customers in the waiting room could speak to and watch the repairs being made in real time. This goes beyond the lobby, and we look forward to seeing how this shapes up in practice. For now, there's a press release below with more details.
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New Audi Cam brings servicing to the small screen

Pioneering Audi Cam service enables customers to see and hear about necessary repair work and to authorise it all via mobile phone or PC.

- World first for a car maker - Audi Cam service now rolled out across all UK Audi Centres
- Hand-held camera produces narrated film clips that are embedded in customer-specific PIN-protected web page that is emailed to the customer
- Page includes video and audio commentary, VAT-inclusive pricing for each job, personal technician and service team profiles and action buttons for automatic authorisation of work

The term 'candid camera' takes on new meaning from this week as Audi Centre technicians across the UK double as pioneering 'Audi Cam' film producers to further the brand's quest for absolute clarity and transparency in its customer relationships. The new Audi Cam service will be the first in the world to enable technicians carrying out workshop inspections to focus hand-held 'Audi Cams' on specific problems, to deliver verbal diagnoses and to send the resulting film clips to customers' home computers or smartphones before any work begins.

The Audi Cam is a small, hand-held video camera capable of delivering high quality footage with excellent sound quality. Audi Approved technicians, all of whom have undergone tailor-made training, will use it first to visually and verbally identify a customer's car on film after conducting an initial inspection. They will then pinpoint and clearly explain any problems found, and then propose solutions to those problems.

Each problem identified - for example brake pad wear or illegal tyre tread depth - is filmed as an individual clip to minimise file size and reduce 'buffering', and in as little as three minutes can then be incorporated into a web page that is exclusive to the customer involved. A secure link to that page is then emailed to the customer, who has sole access to it using a unique PIN number which is sent separately by text message to their mobile phone. The page is optimised for compatibility with home computers and smartphones, so its full functionality is available 'on-the-move'.

Online authorisation
The page contains the relevant film clip or clips, and grades each problem as either 'urgent', 'advisory' or 'for info' to give the customer a clear idea of its severity. It also provides a VAT-inclusive price quotation for each job, along with action buttons that enable the customer to authorise the Centre to proceed with it at the price quoted, to reject the work or to request a call back to discuss it.

Once the customer has added all the jobs he or she wants to proceed with to the 'shopping basket', they can authorise the Centre to begin the work by re-entering their unique PIN number. Before doing this, they can even gain some insight into the team which will be working on the car by viewing personal service team profiles posted on their page.

Audi Cam is an evolution of the Direct Reception technology rolled out across the Audi Centre network last year. Direct Reception gives customers audio visual access to their cars from the comfort of the Audi Centre reception area as they are worked on by technicians equipped with head-mounted cameras and two-way audio links. They are free to talk to the technicians directly, and service advisors are on hand to answer any questions that arise. The Direct Reception programme continues alongside this latest development and has a very similar objective - to instil even greater customer confidence not only in the legitimacy of each diagnosis but also the integrity and unparalleled product knowledge of Audi trained technicians.

Paul Sansom, Head of Aftersales and Service for Audi UK, welcomed the advances made by this new initiative: "Audi is unquestionably an innovator where its cars are concerned, and I'm delighted that we're now also making real headway in advancing the art of looking after those cars and their drivers. By effectively beaming the workshop to our customers' homes or smartphones, Audi Cam greatly simplifies the service and repair process, and at the same time breaks down more of the barriers between the service bay and the customer that have traditionally fostered scepticism and suspicion. This is genuine progress through technology in the best tradition of Vorsprung durch Technik."

About Audi UK
In 2011 Audi recorded its best ever worldwide result of 1,302,650 sales, a 19 per cent improvement over 2010. In the UK, 113,703 Audi models found homes last year, a 14 per cent increase on 2010. To sustain the technological lead embodied in its Vorsprung durch Technik slogan, the brand plans to invest EUR13 billion, mainly in new products, between 2011 and 2015. By this point, its range will have expanded from today's 39 models to a total of 42. Recent additions, including the A1 Sportback, the all-new A3 and the new generation A4 and A5 ranges, will be joined imminently by, among others, the RS 4 Avant, the A6 allroad and the R8 e-tron, the first fully electric series-production Audi model. On the race circuit, Audi has competed in the Le Mans 24 Hour sportscar endurance race 14 times since 1999, achieving a podium finish on all of these occasions as well as outright victory 11 times. In 2012, Audi made history at Le Mans by winning with pioneering hybrid diesel technology used in the Audi R18 e-tron quattro.

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