Market research company, Synovate, measures this aspect of vehicle ownership and recently announced the best-performing brands for 2011, based on research conducted with customers who purchased or serviced a new car or light commercial vehicle in 2010. Some 33 000 owners were interviewed.
“The awards this year demonstrate how manufacturers have committed to distinguishing themselves and breaking away from the frontrunners,” states Richard Rice, sales and marketing director at Synovate South Africa. “Our previous Quality Awards for Sales and Service yielded a higher number of gold awards but the scores across the categories have improved, indicating a higher level of satisfaction with the sales and service experience than previously. Simply put, the standard of quality has improved and the competition has steepened.”
Recognition is given to the outstanding achievers in the following four categories:
Gold Award winners include Audi, Toyota, Isuzu, Mitsubishi, Chevrolet and Lexus, with Audi the sole winner of Gold in the ‘passenger car purchasing experience’ section, scoring well ahead of the next best. Silver went to Volkswagen, Chevrolet and Toyota.
As far as the ‘passenger car servicing experience’ was concerned, top performers were Mitsubishi, Lexus and Chevrolet with Silver awards going to Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz.
“The service experience is typically a more difficult area for manufacturers as it is not as exciting for the consumer as the initial sales process. They are therefore harder to please and scores are usually lower for service then they are for sales,” comments Rice. “However, the scores have improved since the last awards, which indicates an increased effort to make this interaction as pleasant as possible”.
When it comes to buying a light commercial vehicle it was Isuzu, Toyota, and Chevrolet that stood out, Mitsubishi, Mazda and Ford got Silver with Nissan a disappointing Bronze. Nissan saved face with Gold when it came to servicing but shared top spot with Mitsubishi, Toyota, Chevrolet and Isuzu. Ford and Mazda could only manage Silver again and must be hoping their new-generation bakkie range will improve fortunes.
“Isuzu, Toyota and Chevrolet were awarded Golds in both purchasing and service for LCV which is a great testament to how seriously these manufacturers take the branded experience they offer their customers and loyalty into the future,” states Rice. “Synovate questions respondents on the quality of the interaction and focuses not only on the hard measurements but also on the softer, more emotional attributes. This directly relates to the degree of customer loyalty a brand will enjoy. Getting the softer issues right can be a far greater challenge than just making sure that the customer was given all the right information, as an example. What we focus on is the overall customer experience.”