Honda Supports Its European Dealerships With Multilingual Blended Learning
|The client||Honda Motor Europe Ltd. is the European subsidiary of the Japanese multinational business, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of automobiles, motorcycles, and other power equipment.|
|Industry||Automotive manufacturing and distribution|
|Headquarters||Minato City, Tokyo, Japan|
|Operating in||140 countries worldwide|
|Size||204,000 employees (2022)|
A wide range of people in the auto industry are facing great changes. From dealer principals to front-of-house teams, sales management to service specialists, almost everyone in customer-facing roles is all now working in an incredible time of transformation as the technologies used in cars, trucks, motorcycles, and other power products shift from internal combustion engines to electric or hydrogen power.
Regular maintenance for today’s vehicles will evolve as we transition to alternative energy vehicles and things such as oil changes and spark plug replacements become a thing of the past. As vehicular transport changes, so will the roles of the technicians, service specialists, and sales associates, who are supported by comprehensive ongoing training to keep up with changes in the model ranges, the markets served, and of course, with advances in technology.
The team at Honda Motor Europe is adapting to and enabling these transitional changes head-on. By providing online training in up to 18 languages, to over 30,000 staff throughout their franchised dealer network, Honda is preparing its extended teams across Europe to work with the technologies of both today and tomorrow.
Multilingual Blended Learning At Honda Motor Europe
Oliver Gassner, Head of European Training at Honda, together with his team, manages training across Europe. Collectively they provide and support a centralized focal point for training and learning, including specialist training centres such as the Honda Academy and the Honda Institutes, plus a wealth of multilingual eLearning content that’s delivered digitally.
A blended approach has been adopted to facilitate learning. In many cases, base knowledge is built with eLearning courses, which are then supplemented and enhanced by hands-on training. The curriculum covers a wide range of topics, such as technical training on servicing Honda products, sales training on key product features and selling points, as well as customer engagement training to ensure that customers enjoy a great experience whenever they interact with the Honda brand. All course content, including guidelines, presentations, and other learning materials, is translated into up to 18 languages, including bidirectional languages.
Honda strongly believes that well-trained employees help ensure market competitiveness and that an investment in training is an investment in the organization’s future. Technicians take part in regular competitions, with the highest ranking from each country qualifying for the European regional final at the Honda Academy in Germany. Those who reach the next level travel to Japan for the prestigious global final, where they visit Honda’s main development centre, meet the President of Honda, and network with peers from around the world.
Centralized Translations Improved By Local Voices
Originally, the translation of eLearning content for Honda’s European teams was managed locally. Each country decided which materials to localize and worked with local partners to translate the content. While this system provided culturally nuanced translations, it wasn’t scalable and there were branding and terminology inconsistencies.
In 2015, the decision was taken to centralize localization operations. Local teams, who had previously managed all aspects of the process, transitioned to focusing on reviewing translations. Expectations were (and remain) high, especially those about maintaining high-quality linguistic standards across all countries and languages. It’s worth noting that engineers and technicians are notoriously hard to please when it comes to the translation of technical materials and documentation.
And, of course, Honda is dedicated to providing customers with an exceptional experience in every country, irrespective of the language used.
The application of technologies such as Translation Memory (TM), as well as processes such as regular terminology checks by in-country partners, are distinct but equally fundamental aspects of this centralized approach. The feedback from local teams enhances the terminology in the TM, which benefits from accuracy, consistency, and cultural enrichment.
A Reliable Partner Now, And For The Future
Since Honda’s standards for quality are extremely rigorous, they regularly evaluate their relationships with business partners to ensure their needs are being met.
“We have very high expectations,” Oliver says. “The reason why we appreciate working with you is because RWS has the flexibility, competency and quality that we need. Your team is very proactive on making improvements and providing more services.”
An example of this can be seen in a process improvement that came about when considering how to best manage the scalability of services to meet peaks and troughs in demand. RWS has the capacity to cope with these variations, which, for instance, occur when multiple new automotive models are launched over a relatively short time frame.
Whilst examining the handoffs that occur as a part of the normal process, it became clear that there was room for improvement. Specifically, translated course content needs to be reworked and integrated into the original eLearning course format—a process referred to as “rebuilding.” That “rebuilding” work was originally supported by a third party, with RWS acting as a backup provider, but on examination, it was found that the transfer of data to the other party took additional time and wasn’t ideal from a process and quality management perspective.
“RWS offered to support us by rebuilding the courses, which worked very smoothly,” Oliver says. “Having RWS take over this step fit into the process quite well, and we realized it works too well to just be a backup solution. The process is now actually faster and more efficient than before.”
Responsive And Dependable: The RWS Team Makes A Difference
The RWS team working with Honda is also a big differentiator for Oliver, who appreciates that the cooperative approach adopted is always very open and productive.
“Whenever we are looking for solutions, we simply ask, and RWS provides feedback and ideas, which is very helpful for us,” Oliver says. “We are glad to have a partner who is reliable and has capabilities that we might not need now but could possibly use sometime in the future.”
Oliver is especially grateful for the support of their RWS Account Manager when discussing translation changes with Honda’s branches. When managing potentially sensitive changes to terminology, RWS’s Account Manager sets the tone of the discussions, which Oliver feels are consistently cooperative, efficient, and friendly. He says that the high level of communication and cooperation has been maintained in no small part due to the input of their Account Manager.
RWS’s reliability and responsiveness are also greatly appreciated by Oliver and his team. Once, the night before a major competition, Oliver’s team discovered an incorrect answer in the source script, and a quick change was needed. The team contacted RWS, who translated the right answer into 14 languages and updated the script overnight.
When things do go awry, the speed with which issues are resolved makes all the difference.
“We know that we are not always an easy partner because we want high quality, but we are always short on time,” Oliver says. “It really makes a difference to know that we have a partner if we get in trouble. Your team is always there to support us, and we’ve never been disappointed.”
Preparing For A New Generation Of Vehicles
As the automotive industry moves rapidly toward electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles, Honda is leading with the adoption of new technologies that embrace this transformation. New processes and different maintenance needs will require the integration of new terminology into training content, which will need to be translated for Honda’s global markets, so Oliver expects the demand for training to continue.
“The whole industry is changing and transforming,” Oliver says. “It’s exciting. As the technology changes, terminology will also have to change for cars, or bikes, or lawnmowers—Honda makes all of these. The skill set required to service electric products is different from those needed for traditional combustion engine products, so we will need to have a lot of new training content to be translated.”
Over time, the partnership between Honda and RWS has grown stronger, and Oliver sees only more teamwork ahead.
“When I think of our collaboration, I don’t see any reason why our partnership should end. I look forward to continuing our cooperation and improving together, the way we have been over the years.”
Language Services Benefits
- High-quality translations that meet or exceed the expectations of an exacting client audience
- A proactive and responsive team that works collaboratively and flexibly
- A thorough understanding of Honda’s subject matter and linguistic needs
- The scalability to cope with fluctuations in demand
- An ability to work effectively with both local and central localization teams
- Expertise to develop new and customized solutions
Key Benefits For Honda
- Speed to market
- Faster localization of eLearning courses and content
- Ability to meet tight deadlines
- Multiple services to help Honda scale
- Quality, reliability, and trust
- Meeting and exceeding high-quality standards
- Translation memory and terminology management that supports quality and consistency
- Strong communication between RWS and Honda teams
- Continued focus on process and cost efficiencies
- A proactive and collaborative approach at all times
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