Only the insurance sector scores lower than the automotive industry in terms of providing the best service and customer experience.
According to the second annual ‘Customer experience survey’ from the service design consultancy Engine, just 12.2% of consumers cited automotive as offering the best of both.
It was narrowly ahead of insurance companies (11.4%) among the 14 sectors covered in the study, as offering .
Automotive came immediately behind utilities (12.4%) and public transport & trains (13.5%) – the two sectors most publicly harangued for poor customer service.
The study also revealed automotive as the sector where people’s choice of provider is least influenced by customer experience – selected by only 11.8% of respondents.
Public transport/trains (13.9%) comes second bottom.
“It’s certainly a cause for concern that automotive ranks behind even public transport/trains and utilities in terms of quality of customer service,” said Oliver King, co-founder of Engine.
“Although figures suggest the experience isn’t a strong influence on customer choice, this is because in sales, by the time people reach a dealer, they’ve pretty much decided exactly what they want to buy, so the interaction is much more about ratifying and confirming the product meets their needs.”
“However, it’s naive for manufacturers and dealerships to be lazy about customer experience because of the impact it has on the more profitable and ongoing areas of servicing and repairs.
“For automotive, customer experience is all about ownership.
Whilst the relationship may start at purchase, the way customers are treated and the service levels dealerships provide will be the deciding factor in loyalty.”
As people get older, the customer experience becomes a slightly bigger factor in their choice of dealership – and it’s nearly twice as big a factor for men (16%) than women (9%).
The retail sector ranks 1st (38.2%) in terms of providing the best customer service/experience.
Food services/ restaurants (cited by 35%) is where consumers’ choice of provider is most strongly affected by the customer service/experience.
Consumers value honesty and efficiency most highly
Openness/honesty is the most valued trait in the way a company provides its customer service and experience (cited by 49%), followed by efficiency (43%) and reliability (41%). All three of the most valued traits become a bigger factor with age – particularly openness/honesty.
“Dealerships and manufacturers can’t afford to think about what’s important to their ‘average customer’ – that person doesn’t exist,” said King.
“Instead, they need to think of the different customer profiles and tailor the experience accordingly for each one.
“For instance, older people put greater emphasis on the experience being honest, efficient and reliable, while the younger generation put more store on it being flexible and enjoyable.”
Quality much more of a factor in recommendations than price
The report also reveals that consumers are nearly twice as likely to recommend a brand or company based on the quality of service (62%) than they are on price (35%).
This ‘skew’ towards service is even more pronounced for people over 55 (69% vs. 29%).
Why is customer experience important?
Better customer experience leads to increased revenues, greater likelihood of recommendations, process efficiencies and customer loyalty.
King said: “Businesses can more accurately measure the impact that an improved customer experience has on performance.
“Clients like Jaguar Land Rover, Hyundai and Mercedes-Benz have all used service design techniques which essentially put greater customer focus into designing the experience a company provides.”
> Sample size: 1,024, weighted to represent all UK adults