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Better Service, Happier Customers: A Key to Automotive Brand Loyalty

OEMs that invest in service as a presale activity, rather than a postsale one, keep car buyers coming back.

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Better Service, Happier Customers: A Key to Automotive Brand Loyalty

Today, it’s common to hear consumers say they'll buy a car brand again—or not—based on the customer experience. In fact, Bain research shows the experience of buying and owning a car generates as much customer advocacy for the brand as the vehicle itself (for more, see “What Automakers Need to Know about Customer Delight”). And when considering the many customer episodes that make up the ownership experience, service episodes are among those that can have the greatest benefit.

Service episodes are some of the most “emotive,” or the most likely to delight or annoy customers. Even more routine service episodes happen so often that they can affect overall customer sentiment through repeated frustration or satisfaction.

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Traditionally, many auto original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have viewed service as a “postsales” activity, one that was primarily the responsibility of their dealership partners. However, some OEMs are now investing in organizational systems and processes to differentiate their service experience. The benefit is two-fold: Happier customers are more likely to take their cars to the OEM service lane, and more than twice as likely as unhappy customers to buy from the same brand again. In treating service as a “presale” activity, leading OEMs are gaining much stronger advocacy and creating repeat customers.

Episode-level NPS PrismSM data shows that key service episodes, as well as the actions within those episodes, have an outsized effect on customer loyalty. For example, customers’ satisfaction during the “picked up vehicle” episode can substantially boost their overall satisfaction with the OEM. When customers believe the OEM charged them fairly, completed their service in the first attempt, quoted an accurate time range, and followed up with them, their total Net Promoter ScoreSM—a measure of customers’ likelihood to recommend a store or brand—is significantly higher.


What Automakers Need to Know about Customer Delight

The vehicles matter, but they’re not the entire story. Delivering a great customer experience is equally important in creating happy, loyal customers.

Net Promoter Score℠, Net Promoter System℠, and NPS Prism℠ are service marks of Bain & Company, Inc., Satmetrix Systems, Inc., and Fred Reichheld. Net Promoter®, NPS®, and the NPS-related emoticons are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., Satmetrix Systems, Inc., and Fred Reichheld.


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