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Fleet managers treated as 'second class customers'

Dealers have been lambasted by fleet operators for offering unacceptable standards of customer service and poor aftersales support.

The Fleet Operator Attitude Survey, published by AM sister company Sewells Information and Research, discovered fleets feel let down by the dealer network – and that impression influences their next leasing deal.

“Fleet managers often feel they are treated as second class citizens compared with private owners – with some fleets feeling much less valued customers, at the back of the queue, well behind allegedly more profitable private and business sector customers,” says the report. The survey also discovered “an apparent off-hand, not to say arrogant, manner towards fleet customers by some specialised franchise dealerships”.

The report adds: “It cannot be discounted that fleet managers' widespread dissatisfaction with the quality of aftersales service is influencing their feelings and the way they express their views about dealers' sales operations.”

Aftesales support is highlighted as an area of real concern for fleets. They say strong service and repair support is a key factor when choosing vehicle brands, but long lead times, a decline in off-the-shelf parts availability and a worsening of dealers' ability to 'first time fix' problems are major issues.

The fleet industry also calls on dealers to create dedicated fleet and business units. At present, 64% of fleets do business with specialist units at dealerships, but there is a perceived decline in the understanding of the fleet industry from dealers that do not have business units, the survey found.

“Fleets want manufacturers to understand what issues are important to them,” says the report. “They want effective support from competent people, who are available when they need them. And they want a strong manufacturer fleet support and demonstrator programme.”

According to the survey, fleets believe the availability and competence of senior management at dealers has slipped back, although respondents claim there has been an improvement in their ability to solve problems fast and understand important fleet issues.

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