Cus­tomers ex­pect qual­ity ser­vice — and will say so

IN­DUS­TRY NEWS/ The way mo­tor ve­hi­cle own­ers score brand ex­pe­ri­ences is chang­ing, writes Mark Smyth

Business Day - Motor News - - MOTOR NEWS -

The tra­di­tional method of a cus­tomer re­spond­ing to ques­tions after hav­ing a ve­hi­cle ser­viced is chang­ing. Ac­cord­ing to Pa­trick Buss­chau, busi­ness unit di­rec­tor at Ip­sos SA, the move to­wards dig­i­tal plat­forms has dis­rupted the way the in­dus­try gets feed­back from cus­tomers.

At the same time, dig­i­tal has armed cus­tomers with more in­for­ma­tion and Buss­chau says the au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try is find­ing it chal­leng­ing to keep up.

Cus­tomers pre­vi­ously aired their sat­is­fac­tion or dis­sat­is­fac­tion over ve­hi­cle ser­vice when con­tacted by a call cen­tre op­er­a­tion such as that run by Ip­sos. How­ever, these days many take to so­cial me­dia or to plat­forms like Hel­loPeter and typ­i­cally to com­plain rather to praise.

How a cus­tomer in­ter­acts with a dealer is also chang­ing. Buss­chau agrees that the con­cept of a mo­tor dealer is go­ing to change, with many ve­hi­cle mak­ers im­ple­ment­ing more vir­tual deal­er­ships.

Ser­vic­ing a ve­hi­cle is chang­ing with some com­pa­nies of­fer­ing seven days a week ser­vic­ing and mo­bile ser­vic­ing.

In ad­di­tion, some deal­er­ships are pro­vid­ing drive-in ser­vic­ing and even mak­ing it more of a fo­cal point, al­low­ing you to en­joy a cof­fee and get some work done while you watch your car be­ing ser­viced. Crit­i­cally, this takes away some of the con­cerns over what work was done on your car.

The re­sults of the lat­est sur­vey, which still only ac­counts for 76% of car brands in SA and cov­ers Jan­uary to De­cem­ber 2017, show cus­tomers are be­com­ing more de­mand­ing, par­tic­u­larly says Buss­chau when it comes to the “soft el­e­ments” which he says are key dif­fer­en­tia­tors between brands.

Gen­er­ally, the in­dus­try ap­pears to be lag­ging slightly, with de­clines in sat­is­fac­tion across most of the key points.

The most im­por­tant in the pas­sen­ger car mar­ket re­mains that a ve­hi­cle is fixed right first time. Clean­li­ness of a ve­hi­cle on col­lec­tion is a ma­jor con­cern in pas­sen­ger and light com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle (LCV) seg­ments.

This has fas­ci­nat­ing im­pli­ca­tions in the West­ern Cape where drought con­di­tions have meant deal­er­ships are not able to clean the ex­te­rior of ve­hi­cles. How­ever, it seems many are us­ing this to ig­nore clean­ing the in­te­rior while cus­tomers are ex­pect­ing the in­te­rior to re­ceive more at­ten­tion.

So who did well and who failed to make the grade?

In the ve­hi­cle pur­chas­ing ex­pe­ri­ence it was Audi, Nis­san and Volk­swa­gen that came out on top and re­ceived gold awards. Nis­san, Toy­ota and VW were top in the LCV pur­chas­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

Audi con­tin­ued to dom­i­nate the ser­vice ex­pe­ri­ence tak­ing gold along with Lexus, Nis­san, Toy­ota and VW.

Typ­i­cal of the Ip­sos re­sults, most brands in­cluded in the sur­vey get an award of some kind. But one name was glar­ingly miss­ing from the ser­vic­ing re­sults — Ford. It failed to even achieve a qual­i­fy­ing fig­ure in the re­sults, with the han­dling of the Kuga fires im­pact­ing neg­a­tively.

In­ter­est­ingly, while the Kuga cri­sis ham­mered Ford’s ser­vice scores, VW Group brands still re­main on top in spite of Diesel­gate. Buss­chau says the global emis­sions-cheat­ing scan­dal has had al­most no ef­fect on con­sumers in SA be­cause “we’re pre­oc­cu­pied with rhi­nos. That’s our en­vi­ron­men­tal con­cern,” he says, not emis­sions.

Ford did achieve a bronze in LCV ser­vic­ing, but it again lagged way be­hind its com­peti­tors with Isuzu, Nis­san, Toy­ota and VW all tak­ing gold.

Audi again topped both the pur­chas­ing and sales ex­pe­ri­ence re­sults

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