Customer service in the automotive industry has not kept pace with customers’ changing expectations, according to a study from Capgemini, a professional services and business consulting corporation. In their Cars Online Trend Study, Capgemini identified specific customer needs and expectations that OEMs and dealers should address if they seek to modernise their customer service.

The study focusses on Germany, the USA and China, as some of the largest automotive markets in the world, but the findings should interest car manufacturers and retailers in the UK and other countries. One of the key conclusions from the survey is the need to establish a personalised, individual dialogue with each customer to promote loyalty and profitability, and this could be said of all automotive markets.

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54% of customers in the USA and 37% in Germany said they would change dealers after experiencing poor customer service while in the interest phase of buying a car. Around 15% in both countries said they would even look for an entirely different brand or manufacturer. A similar result is likely in the UK, where poor customer service can drive buyers to rival retailers. Ensuring your customers receive the same first-class service from browsing your forecourt through to closing the sale is essential.

One way to improve the customer experience at your dealership is by offering ways to help protect their investment – with GAP insurance or extended warranty, for example. A new vehicle is one of life’s biggest purchases and giving your customers peace-of-mind will help build a strong, lasting relationship, as well as boost revenue. For further information about creating customer loyalty, download our Customer Service eBook.

What are the most valued parts of a good customer service experience? In all three of the study’s focus countries, the speed of customer service ranked highly. Quality of answers, politeness of employees, and degree of personalisation also made the top five. Respondents were also questioned on car manufacturers’ customer service teams, citing highly on their list of expectations: talking to a real person, an agent knowing their car and service history, and tracking the status of their issues.

How and why do customers like to be contacted?

How customers like to handle their customer service solution varies across all three countries and depends on the issue, including technical problems, information and complaints. In all but Germany, a telephone hotline still ranks as the number one communication channel for both technical problems and complaints – whereas Germans prefer email for complaints. Email ranks number one in all three countries for information communications. This is followed by telephones, self-service section of websites, web chat and social media, although their priority varies across countries.

The survey also asked respondents to list what they would like manufacturers and dealers to contact them about. The need for car maintenance came out on top in all three countries. This was followed by personal product/service offers, such as GAP insurance and extended warranty, and then contract expiration. Brand news and the availability of new car models came in a very close fourth place in Germany and America.

One of the most notable aspects of Capgemini’s survey is the variation of results across the countries. Similarly, results in the UK would likely vary from other automotive markets across the world, but despite the differences there are still broad trends when it comes to customer service. Some of those have been highlighted in this blog but, for the full survey findings, see Capgemini’s report here.

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