South African consumers are happiest when buying an Audi passenger car, or an Isuzu pickup, and most delighted with service on their Chevrolet bakkies and cars.
These are the results of the 2012 Ipsos Quality Awards for Sales and Service satisfaction in the local automotive industry, as announced on Friday.
The awards were previously known as the Synovate awards and have been given to the industry for the past eight years. The Ipsos research firm last year acquired Synovate.
Recognition is given in four categories, namely passenger car (PC) purchasing experience, PC servicing experience, light commercial vehicle (LCV) purchasing experience, as well as LCV servicing experience.
It is the second year in a row that Audi has taken the top spot in the PC purchasing experience category.
The top three in this category are close in terms of score, with the category yielding an average of 93.5%. Last year this stood at 90%.
This year the lowest score falls just short of 90%.
Audi leads the 2012 PC purchasing experience awards at 96%, followed by VW with 95% and Chevrolet with 94.8%.
“The top performers in this category include a nice mix of brands – both mass and luxury vehicles are represented,” says Ipsos South Africa head of loyalty research Richard Rice.
“This reflects very nicely on the automotive industry because it shows unconditional treatment, regardless of the type of consumer”.
The PC servicing experience award was topped by Chevrolet with 88%, Lexus with 87.9%, VW with 87.6%, Opel with 87.5%, Audi with 87.2%, Mitsubishi with 86.5% and Mercedes-Benz with 85.9%.
“With a category average of 84.8%, there is a huge opportunity for new ground to be broken and a chance for manufacturers to differentiate themselves in the market based on the quality of their service,” comments Rice.
The LCV purchasing experience award yielded a category average of 91.7%, up from 88% last year.
Top performers include Isuzu with 92.9%, Toyota with 92.8%, Chevrolet with 92%, Ford with 91.8% and Mazda with 91.4%.
“This category still has some catching up to do to reach the same high average as the passenger vehicle purchasing experience,” says Rice.
“There is an opportunity to separate the light commercial sales experience from the passenger car experience with a clear focus on the specific needs of the commercial vehicle buyer.”
The top achievers for the category of LCV servicing experience are Chevrolet with 88%, Isuzu with 87.5% and Toyota with 87.2%.
The average score for this category has improved from last year’s 80% to 85%.
“The service scores across the LCV category are quite consistent,” states Rice.
“As is the case with passenger vehicles, manufacturers need to break through these threshold scores and differentiate themselves based on their unique consumer focus and understanding.”
The Ipsos 2012 quality awards were given based on a survey conducted over a 12-month period between January and December 2011 and formed part of a study that measures the perceptions of more than 22 000 passenger and light commercial vehicle owners.
The questionnaire covers all elements of the sales and service process, from the appearance of staff at the dealership itself, to the financing or pricing aspects of the sale or service, on to the post-sale or post-service follow up.
Complaint resolution is also a key part of the questionnaire for customers who do report problems.
Rice notes that vehicle manufacturers are struggling with the emotional expectations of customers, rather than the technical expectations, by, for example, failing to make a follow-up call after a service, while managing to "fix the problem right the first time".
Not all the brands are included in the Ipsos survey, for various reasons. This could be because the manufacturer chose not to participate, or because the sample achieved is too small.
Another reason some manufacturers do not get canvassed is owing to the length of participation in the study – a full year of participation is required before a brand can be included in the rankings.
Brands which did not participate in the 2012 awards include BMW, Hyundai, Kia, Suzuki, Tata, Land Rover, Honda, Mini and Subaru.
The Ipsos survey represents about 83% of all new vehicles sold in the PC market and 98% of the LCV market, says Rice.