Customer ratings of Fiat, Alfa and Abarth dealers are to be made public on the manufacturers’ websites from January.
A year after alerting his network to the initiative, Fiat Group Automobiles UK managing director Andrew Humberstone says it will now begin telephoning 30,000 customers each year (representing 45% of the brand’s total) asking for feedback on dealers’ aftersales performance.
The results of these will then be displayed as a maximum five-star rating online, updated monthly.
The plan was outlined this month at Fiat’s dealer conference.
Humberstone told AM: “I expect our dealers to be motivated by our publicising their performance. I’ve given the network two years of our motivation and it’s now time for them to return the effort. If they are not prepared to then maybe I’ve got the wrong partners.”
He said Fiat and Alfa Romeo had a history of “questionable” service standards and dealer relations. “It’s unacceptable we are at the bottom of JD Power surveys and dealers’ CSI scores are nowhere near where they need to be.”
The most effective way to address this is through the transparency the initiative provides, Humberstone said. “And customers need to know they can get a better service by travelling 10 miles further.”
Customers will be asked questions such as, ‘was your car cleaned as part of its service and ‘was the price quoted what you paid’?
Dealers, Humberstone said, would have a ‘right of appeal’ if they thought they were being scored harshly.
The rating is expected to be rolled out to sales and to a greater proportion of customers.
Since becoming managing director two years ago, Humberstone has overseen a reduction in the Fiat network from 164 to 124 and rebuilt it to 163. By the end of 2010 he expects it to by at 185 centres and reach 200 by 2011.
“To the credit of the network, there has been a significant improvement in standards and profitability is at the industry average of 1.9%,” Humberstone said.
> Media presentation: To hear Andrew Humberstone's views on past and current challenges, his views on the market in 2010 and his dealer click here.