Proton going all out to improve image

Proton Holdings Bhd CEO Datuk Harith Abdullah (right), with the company’s adviser Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, giving a press conference, Feb 18, 2016. — PIx by YS Khong
Proton Holdings Bhd CEO Datuk Harith Abdullah (right), with the company’s adviser Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, giving a press conference, Feb 18, 2016. — PIx by YS Khong

SHAH ALAM, Feb 19 — Proton has tasked itself to improve its image to the Malaysian public. After 30 years in the business, Proton Holdings Berhad has bravely admitted that it does not have a very favourable image, said Datuk Harith Abdullah, CEO, at yesterday’s media preview of the new Proton Perdana, which is officially open for bookings, and will be launched very soon.

“This year marks our 31st year in business, which means we are into our new decade. For the past 30 years, it is impossible that we have not yet learnt anything and today, Proton takes this necessary step to stride up to the plate if it wants to remain relevant to Malaysians. We are aware of the severity of where Proton stands today and although we have improved ourselves in many small ways, we know very well that we cannot be complacent. And this initiative doesn’t just involve a simple change to the logo. This time I am making a promise that our focus is on our customers,” stated Harith.

A Proton emergency assist vehicle is pictured during the media event, Feb 18, 2016.
A Proton emergency assist vehicle is pictured during the media event, Feb 18, 2016.

He also candidly stated that although the new Proton cars were superior in performance and had more safety features than the competition, people were reluctant to step into Proton showrooms to check out the cars, let alone test drive one. He attributed this to the adverse publicity and poor public opinion on Proton cars based on bad past experiences although some of these issues have long been addressed.

The plan for image upgrading starts with an open invitation to the public to step into any Proton showroom and test drive a car via the ‘It’s in the Drive’ campaign that is currently ongoing – people who test drive and sign up for a Proton stand to win attractive prizes. The campaign, which started on 23 January 2016, is to allow people to feel and experience Proton cars such the Proton Iriz, the most affordable 5-Star Asean NCAP car in Malaysia. Other models enjoying the same 5-Star Asean NCAP status are the Preve, and the Suprima S.  The Grand Prize for this campaign is a Proton Suprima S.

Alongside the It’s in the Drive campaign, Proton also hopes to showcase Proton’s design – The Proton Iriz won the Best Industrial Design 2015 by the Intellectual Property Corporation and the Malaysia Good Design Mark Award 2014 by the Malaysia Design council.

At the same time, Proton performance allows customers to feel the handling of the car and experience the new features such as the speed-variable Electric Power Steering which also helps to increase stability while saving fuel.

Occupant safety is another field that Proton is very proud of. The Proton Iriz is Proton’s most affordable and most well-equipped cars in terms of safety, with six airbags, electronic stability control, ABS, EBD, traction control, brake assist, and hill hold assist, amongst others. Hot Press Forming, (HPF) is a process that Proton uses in constructing its critical body parts, which results in higher rigidity – this processes are usually used for production of more expensive cars.

On the promise to be more focussed on the customer, Proton plans to improve its service facilities through the introduction of quick service lanes, pick-up and delivery service, mobile assist, opening up the service centres on weekends and even the loan of courtesy cars for vehicles off the road.  In addition, Proton will start insurance and road tax services for customers. By beefing up its after sales services, Proton aims to improve the customer experience, this area being the main area of customer complaints.

“We have not been meeting customers’ expectations in the way we deal with our customers and the management of Proton is working hard to go to the ground to monitor what our employees are doing. Implementation is one thing, but without a good monitoring process, it may seem inconsistent in many of our outlets. We already have about 3.6 million cars on the road, and we must take care of these customers who have chosen to purchase our cars,” said Harith.

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