The American Customer Satisfaction Index recently published the findings from its 2019-2020 Automobile Report, which ranks brands based on the average level of consumer satisfaction with the brand’s products.
This year’s ACSI Automobile Report was bad news for the automotive industry as a whole, with the agency “recognizing an ongoing trend of declining customer satisfaction” in the past year. Overall, 21 of the 27 nameplates it tracks data for saw declines in customer satisfaction and the mainstream General Motors brands, Chevrolet, Buick and GMC, were no exception. In fact, ACSI found that Buick and Chevrolet both retreated to record low satisfaction levels this year, with Chevy falling to 76 percent from 80 percent and Buick from 79 percent to 76 percent. GMC stayed flat year-over-year at 78 percent.
Cadillac was ranked separately with the luxury brands and saw a decline of one point for an 80 percent satisfaction score. This is good news for Cadillac, as customers ranked the second most-satisfied among luxury car owners, tied with Audi. Lexus was first at 82 percent, while Lincoln was last at 77 percent.
Meanwhile, General Motors as a whole saw a rather steep decline of 5 points to 76 percent, putting it just one percentage point ahead of Ford. Fiat Chrysler managed to buck the trend its rivals saw, with customer satisfaction rising 3 points to tie with GM at 77 percent satisfaction.
So what is driving this drop in customer satisfaction? ACSI found that roughly one-third of survey respondents reported experiencing a vehicle recall on their car, truck or SUV and says the negative impact recalls have on customer satisfaction is increasing.
“Two years ago, customer satisfaction among drivers who had a recalled vehicle was nearly the same as those who had not experienced a recall. In 2019, drivers weathering recalls were less satisfied by a gap of 2 points. Now, this gap widens to 3 points as those with recalls are noticeably less content (76 percent) than those without recalls (79 percent),” the ACSI report said.
ACSI also found that the better an automaker handles recalls, the less of an impact issuing recalls has on customer satisfaction. Toyota, Nissan, Infiniti and Mazda “all show no adverse impact of recalls on satisfaction,” while Volvo and Mitsubishi “do even better, registering higher satisfaction for customers who experienced a recall.”
Other factors that can impact customer experience include ride quality/comfort, interior quality/design, driving performance, paint quality, reliability, warranties, gas mileage, technology and even the quality of the brand’s mobile app, among more.
Automakers will be conscious to keep existing customers in happy in the next months and years as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to present challenges for the automotive industry, ACSI also predicts.