The quality of customer service provided by car brands has gone into reverse.
Automotive was one of seven retail sectors in the UK out of a total of 13 to have recorded a fall in satisfaction levels in the last 12 months according to the National Institute of Customer Service.
Its UK Customer Satisfaction Index for July revealed automotive had fallen 1.4 points to 78.3, out of a total of 100.
Skoda was the highest performing brand in the sector, with a score of 83.
Looking at all retail sectors, Skoda is in 11th place overall ahead of household names such as M&S, Boots, Virgin Atlantic and Next.
BMW/Mini is at 26, Hyundai 28, Volvo 34 and Kia and Audi at 35. Volvo is one of 10 most improved companies in the UK, with its score up 5.6 points.
“These organisations have generally achieved better customer satisfaction ratings across a wide range of service measures. It is also noticeable that many of these organisations have shown particular improvement in the areas of helpfulness and competence of staff, as well as speed of service.
“Volvo’s top increases have been in satisfaction with competence of staff and on time delivery", said the NICS.
The NICS also found that customers appear more willing to escalate complaints. The highest levels of this was in the utilities and automotive sectors – and 6.3% chose to do so through social media.
“The growth in escalations demonstrates the importance of empowering employees to respond quickly to customers’ problems, acting with flexibility within a framework which balances meeting customers’ needs with making appropriate commercial decisions,” the NICS said.
The top scoring organisations in the July UK Customer Satisfaction Index are First Direct (score of 87), Amazon (86.3), John Lewis (86.2) and Lovefilm (84.8).
NextGear Capital’s sales director Nigel Warrington, said: “As the industry moves to embrace the new Consumer Rights Act in October, there is a good deal of focus upon the potential for customers to return cars in the first 30 days, if a fault is found.
“Rather than look at this new regulation as a threat, we are urging dealers to take extra time to delight every car buyer.
“From sourcing and supplying well-prepared stock, through to a transparent buying experience, statistically delighting a customer will have a positive experience on every business.
“The cost of getting it right is pretty much the same as getting it wrong.”
> The July survey is based on 39,000 customer responses.