A survey measuring the customer experience for people buying or servicing a car in South Africa finds German brands to be the best.
The 2015 Ipsos competitive customer experience (CCE) survey awarded Audi gold in the passenger car sales survey (96.1% – 97.3%), and gold for the servicing experience (91.7% – 93.8%), while Volkswagen took gold for sales and silver for servicing.
Volkswagen, along with Isuzu, took gold for sales (93.1% – 95.5%) in the light commercial vehicle segment and these two LCV brands, together with Nissan and Toyota took gold for servicing (86.5% – 91%).
In 2014 Audi won gold for both sales and service in the passenger car category, while Volkswagen took gold for sales and silver for service in the PC category.
Volkswagen earned gold for both sales and service in the 2013 LCV survey.
BMW, Chevrolet, Nissan, Opel and Toyota all took silver for the passenger car sales experience in 2015, with Ford, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Renault and Volvo collecting bronze.
Chevrolet, Lexus and Nissan joined Volkswagen in the silver category for passenger car servicing, with BMW, Honda, Mercedes-Benz and Toyota all in the bronze category.
Four brands qualified for silver in the LCV purchasing experience: Chevrolet, Ford, Nissan and Toyota.
Gold for LCV servicing was awarded to Isuzu, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen, while Ford and Chevrolet collected silver.
Mazda was excluded from the rankings from January – December 2014 due to the ongoing setup of the revised dealer network following Mazda separating from Ford, the Ipsos survey said.
“The local vehicle manufacturers and importers can be very proud of the latest Ipsos study results as a tribute to dedication to quality at all levels and extensive quality improvement programmes and intensive staff training,” said Patrick Busschau, the Ipsos automotive business unit director.
“Despite consistently strong results over the last few years there are still opportunities for improvement, and to their credit many of the brands are constantly looking at ways to deliver a better ownership experience,” Busschau said.
According to Ipsos one of the typical characteristics of the automotive retail environment is a lower than average set of expectations from customers in this space, who often don’t trust or necessarily expect a very high level of service from the industry due to a number of factors.
“Some of these factors are real, some legacy and some imagined,” the research note said. “But as a result it can be a little bit easier and simpler to satisfy and even delight a customer in the automotive market, than a customer in the financial services or telecoms environments for instance, because their expectations are different.”
Ipsos believes that South African consumer traits play a part. “South African consumers can be a bit more apathetic, indifferent and forgiving than our counterparts in the US and Europe, but then we have a tendency to vote with our feet, which can catch retailers and businesses by surprise.
“When it comes to engaging with a retailer, especially about problems or complaints, there is often a sense of indifference or even helplessness, be this real or imagined,” Busschau said.
He said that local customers often state that they are satisfied and committed, but when it comes to market behaviour they decide to purchase from another brand as it is easier than risking the stress and frustration of trying to resolve issues.
“This tendency to defect, coupled with a growing market and a very wide repertoire of choices, means we are seeing attitudinal brand commitment in many sectors, including automotive, dropping,” Busschau said.