Customers rate dealer service more highly
The Ipsos Competitive Customer Experience results show motor dealerships are making an effort
Audi and Volkswagen once again set the pace in the Ipsos Competitive Customer Experience survey in SA for 2016, which includes just under half of the automotive brands available in SA. The success of these two brands has been extremely consistent for several years now.
Both brands collected gold awards for the passenger car and light commercial vehicle (LCV) purchasing experience for the fifth consecutive year. Audi also collected gold for the fifth year for passenger car servicing, while Volkswagen got gold for the second year in succession in the same category and gold for the fourth time in the past five years for LCV servicing.
Sadly Ipsos no longer provides a list of the percentage results for each manufacturer, instead grouping those within a percentage bracket and giving them gold, silver or bronze.
Audi and Volkswagen took gold in the passenger car purchasing category, while Chevrolet, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Opel, Toyota and Volvo qualified for silver, with Ford, Honda and Renault collecting bronze.
Four other brands besides Volkswagen qualified for gold in the LCV purchasing experience: Chevrolet, Isuzu, Nissan and Toyota. Ford was the sole recipient of silver in the category.
The detailed Ipsos research into the servicing experience in the passenger car category saw Nissan collect gold, alongside Audi and Volkswagen, with Chevrolet, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Opel and Toyota qualifying for silver and Honda, Renault and Volvo collecting bronze.
Volkswagen was joined by four other brands with gold in the LCV servicing category: Chevrolet, Isuzu, Nissan and Toyota. Ford collected silver and there were no bronze awards..
Ipsos automotive director Patrick Busschau commended the award winners. "All the brands who won awards should be congratulated as they are all showing a consistent commitment to improvement over time in delivering good service to their customers when purchasing or servicing vehicles."
The survey covers less than half of the car brands sold in SA, with notable exceptions including BMW, Kia, Hyundai, Mazda and Suzuki. Citroen, Peugeot and Lexus subscribe to the survey but their results were mostly excluded from the final report. In terms of unit volume, participants in the survey account for most of the market.
The 2016 study involved interviewing more than 22,000 customers, whose details are supplied by the car companies.
Ipsos says the measurement used in the survey has been changed and fine-tuned over the years to remain relevant as the quality of vehicles and service levels have improved and as customers’ needs have evolved.
"Interestingly, but not surprisingly, the same companies which have performed well historically continue to shine when we make these changes to the methodology employed," says Busschau. "It always amazes me how the retail industry manages to lift the bar higher each year we conduct these surveys."
Ipsos says the biggest improvement over the past 10 years has been in servicing, with the average industry rating moving upwards by 8.2% for cars and 7% for LCVs. This has taken the industry average from just over 80% in 2006 to almost 90% in 2016.
In terms of the purchasing experience, the average rating came off a higher base of just over 91% in 2007 but has still risen by 3.4% to 95.1% for cars and by 3.5% to 94.2% for LCVs.
Car buyers report a slightly better purchasing experience than LCV buyers, with an index score of 95.1%. In servicing the scores are very similar at 88.8% for car buyers and 88.9% for LCV customers.
The latest survey shows an ongoing average improvement in the South African customer’s purchasing experience of both passenger cars and light commercial vehicles since 2015, while the quality of the servicing experience has remained static in the case of cars, but dropped by 1% for servicing of LCVs.
All the brands who won awards show a consistent commitment to improving service
The positive changes in the purchasing experience of a car are headed by "contact after delivery", where there has been a 2.1% improvement. Other positive changes include "appreciated as a customer", "ownership of queries and problems", "making you feel important" and "exciting handover".
Ipsos says dealerships seem to have been focusing on contacting customers after the purchase of a new vehicle, because this aspect also shows the biggest improvement — 1.2% — in attributes for purchasers of LCVs. These buyers say they are also being appreciated more as customers and are more likely than car buyers to recommend their dealer to friends and family who want to buy a new bakkie.
As mentioned, the index score for the servicing of cars remained at 88.8% between 2015 and 2016, while in LCV servicing the customer experience dropped slightly from 89.9% to 88.8%.
The main area of improvement in the realm of car servicing has been a willingness by dealers to provide transport to take customers to their next destination, with an improvement of 1.1%.
Customers also feel they are being appreciated more by dealers (up 0.8%) and, in turn, the customers are showing increased trust in the dealership that it will take good care of the vehicle being serviced.
Offering transport to LCV customers is top of the list in terms of improved attributes between 2015 and 2016, rising by 2.1% to 88.7%. Unfortunately for LCV customers there has been a negative trend in all the other aspects of servicing surveyed, with the lowest being an apparent unwillingness of the dealership personnel to take ownership of queries or problems. This rating fell 2%.
LCV customers were also less likely to recommend their dealership to friends and family for servicing a vehicle.
These negative aspects mean some of the dealers have work to do to lift the customer experience for LCV servicing. Possibly the high volume and growth over time of sales in this segment is a contributing factor.
"We do see small fluctuations but this presents the brands and dealers concerned with an opportunity to understand what it is they need to do to improve" their service, says Busschau.