One of the most important aspects of any product is the satisfaction customers gain from the use or experience with the product or with a service. We now have a wide variety of ways to air our grievances with a particular brand, item or service to allow others to see what our disdain or satisfaction level happened to be. These services are useful for us and others to decide upon purchasing a making use of the item or the company for their services. Because we have a multitude of websites and social media platforms to show our feelings about a company or the products many companies are making these surveys and reviews a high priority in their business.
The auto industry certainly is not immune to the customer satisfaction piece either. In fact, the industry now has an overall low of 79 percent as the average satisfaction in the US and most of the brands on the market have actually declined over the past twelve months. This includes the leader on the board of Lexus which has a score of 84 percent which was enough to edge out Mercedes- Benz which dropped three percent down to an 83.
In fact, across the market in the US, only two brands showed an improvement in their scores, Acura and BMW which were up eight and three percent respectively. The overall rating came in with 27 brands that had fifteen with declining scores and ten that remained the same. The import brands were the ones that scored the most, which comes as no surprise since most of the top luxury brands are imports, and they made up 77 percent of the above average scores.
The three main domestic brands did fairly well with Ford offering an above average score of 81, GM sitting right on the average at 79 and FCA showing up as the only below average score of the three at 75 percent. This is a fairly strong showing for these three brands, but should automakers be satisfied with these scores? Why should they accept and we as consumers accept low scores when there is really no reason these scores can’t be much better?
The main reason these scores were so low according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) is twofold. First, the prices of vehicles keep rising and not really on pace with the cost of living. If consumers are not able to increase their income, it’s difficult to justify a higher priced vehicle. The second is a massive forty percent increase in recalls compared to 2014. That is a very alarming statistic which speaks directly to the quality of products, the rush to get items to the market and a lack of comprehensive testing.
In order to combat these scores in the future, automakers are going to need to find ways to increase the value of vehicles without raising prices, or start to lower prices even if it means taking out some of the technology that has increased the costs so much. They will also have to find ways to avoid such large recalls with higher quality parts, longer and better testing programs and an avoidance to rush items to the market. Many automakers already have begun to analyze and address the needs associated with these low satisfaction scores and what we see in the future may be less of a push to change so quickly and more of a gradual infusion of technologies to ensure the new parts are going to work and perform as desired.