Britain’s car owners are still far from fully satisfied with the garages they use to get their cars serviced and mended.
There are plenty of very obvious improvements that can be made, and the AA and the Government’s Trading Standards Institute have hooked up to make sure that the trade starts to deliver more of the quality service that the motorist wants, writes Rob Golding.
The initiative started with a practice run at the 67-dealer group, Marshall Motor Group. What was discovered – and what is key to the success of the whole scheme – is that customers should be keen enough to go on the web site and give an account of how well they were treated.
And it is especially credible if there are some negative responses. Consumers soon see through a web site that weeds out all the critical stuff.
The managing director of the Government-approved Motor Codes, Chris Mason, has been overseeing the construction of the review process for two years. He reckons that the initiative has not been a moment too soon: “It’s the way that today’s customers make their choices.”
He predicts that with garages promoting the feedback facility, customers will quickly recognise the garages’ websites as an honest reflection of the balance of opinion among its customers. Often, dealers will find themselves in a sticky situation with a customer and will ring Motor Codes before deciding what stance to take.
The contributions go up on the web board without any editing and have to be linked to an invoice number and vehicle registration for credibility. The scale of success is in the visitor numbers. Already there have been 115,000 submissions – critiquing both franchised and independent garages.
Chris Mason says that since the start of the scheme five years ago 93% of visitors were looking for information only and there has been 96% customer satisfaction.
Leon Livermore runs Trading Standards in the UK: “We have been building trust for 130 years so we thought we might be able to add something to the issues in the motor trade. There are so many advertisers and approval schemes on the net that it was confusing. We got the new Motor Codes scheme up and running in just over a year which we thought was good.
So far, it has been decided that there should be no automatic right of reply on the dealer websites. And there are tough sanctions available to confer on errant dealers: there can be suspension after two warnings and there can be expulsion from the scheme after reference to an independent arbiter.