Recalls come with a litany of regulatory requirements, and the completion rate for them tends to be higher, which means the company has to reimburse dealers for more repairs.
Automakers argue that they don't weigh costs when fixing flaws that jeopardize safety -- as GM CEO Mary Barra asserted during congressional hearings in April -- but they say most problems truly don't necessitate a recall.
For less serious issues, customer-satisfaction campaigns spare automakers additional costs, with minimal public embarrassment. The flip side is that some consumers may be kept in the dark and wind up paying for repairs themselves.
Often, only customers who complain to their dealer learn that a free fix is available. Those who go to independent garages or a dealership that doesn't do thorough research may miss out.
And unlike recalls, many repairs happen only after a problem occurs, not to prevent one beforehand. In some cases, automakers send notifications to all affected owners, as GM did with its campaigns on the Volt. Shenhar, the Consumer Reports engineer, said most recalls, while inconvenient to customers, shouldn't be perceived as a sign of poor quality and that trying to avoid them can be worse. It's better that the manufacturer is above-board and says, 'We should have done it a little better in the first place, and we're inviting you to get it fixed.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says more than 70 percent of recalled vehicles get repaired. Ditlow's Center for Auto Safety estimates that just 40 to 50 percent of those covered by customer-satisfaction campaigns do. NHTSA says problems such as faulty air conditioners and radios, poor-quality paint and subpar brake pads don't require recalls. Defects that could result in a crash -- such as seat backs that fail unexpectedly, wiring problems that cause lights to go out and malfunctioning windshield wipers -- do.
But there are numerous examples of automakers using customer-satisfaction campaigns for defects in steering systems, headlights, airbags and other components that might contribute to injuries or deaths.
Non-recall field actions are difficult to track but, as the Volt shows, are generally more common than recalls. NHTSA began posting correspondence it receives about customer-service campaigns on its website in , whether for safety-related problems or not, but the documents are comingled with what can be hundreds of other technical bulletins sent to dealers for any given model.
Five states -- California, Connecticut, Maryland, Virginia and Wisconsin -- have "secret warranty" laws requiring automakers to provide written information about campaigns to owners and government officials. In February, GM sent dealers a stop-delivery order and service bulletin on some heavy-duty pickups, only one of which had been sold at that time, for a fuse-block problem that could lead to engine-compartment fires. One of the greatest headaches in the organisation of a b2b customer satisfaction survey is the compilation of the sample frame — the list from which the sample of respondents is selected.
Building an accurate, up-to-date list of customers, with telephone numbers and contact details is nearly always a challenge. The list held by the accounts department may not have the contact details of the people making the purchasing decision. Building a good sample frame nearly always takes longer than was planned but it is the foundation of a good customer satisfaction project. Customer satisfaction surveys are often just that — surveys of customers without consideration of the views of lost or potential customers.
Lapsed customers may have stories to tell about service issues while potential customers are a good source of benchmark data on the competition. If a customer survey is to embrace non-customers, the compilation of the sample frame is even more difficult.
The questionnaire design and interpretation are within the control of the researchers and these are subjects where they will have considerable experience.
In customer satisfaction research we seek the views of respondents on a variety of issues that will show how the company is performing and how it can improve. High level issues are included in most customer satisfaction surveys and they could be captured by questions such as:. It is at the more specific level of questioning that things become more difficult.
Some issues are of obvious importance and every supplier is expected to perform to a minimum acceptable level on them. These are the hygiene factors. If a company fails on any of these issues they would quickly lose market share or go out of business. An airline must offer safety but the level of in-flight service is a variable. These variables such as in-flight service are often the issues that differentiate companies and create the satisfaction or dissatisfaction.
What do they consider important? These factors or attributes will differ from company to company and there could be a long list.
They could include the following:. The list is not exhaustive by any means. Cryptic labels that summarise specific issues have to be carefully chosen for otherwise it will be impossible to interpret the results. Customer facing staff in the research-sponsoring organisation will be able to help at the early stage of working out which attributes to measure.
They understand the issues, they know the terminology and they will welcome being consulted. Internal focus groups with the sales staff will prove highly instructive. This internally generated information may be biased, but it will raise most of the general customer issues and is readily available at little cost.
It is wise to cross check the internal views with a small number of depth interviews with customers. Half a dozen may be all that is required. There are some obvious indicators of customer satisfaction beyond survey data. Sales volumes are a great acid test but they can rise and fall for reasons other than customer satisfaction. Customer complaints say something but they may reflect the views of a vociferous few.
Unsolicited letters of thanks; anecdotal feedback via the salesforce are other indicators. These are all worthwhile indicators of customer satisfaction but on their own they are not enough. They are too haphazard and provide cameos of understanding rather than the big picture. Depth interviews and focus groups could prove very useful insights into customer satisfaction and be yet another barometer of performance.
However, they do not provide benchmark data. They do not allow the comparison of one issue with another or the tracking of changes over time. For this, a quantitative survey is required. The tool kit for measuring customer satisfaction boils down to three options, each with their advantages and disadvantages. The tools are not mutually exclusive and a self-completion element could be used in a face to face interview. So too a postal questionnaire could be preceded by a telephone interview that is used to collect data and seek co-operation for the self-completion element.
When planning the fieldwork, there is likely to be a debate as to whether the interview should be carried out without disclosing the identify of the sponsor.
If the questions in the survey are about a particular company or product, it is obvious that the identity has to be disclosed. When the survey is carried out by phone or face to face, co-operation is helped if an advance letter is sent out explaining the purpose of the research. Logistically this may not be possible in which case the explanation for the survey would be built into the introductory script of the interviewer. If the survey covers a number of competing brands, disclosure of the research sponsor will bias the response.
If the interview is carried out anonymously, without disclosing the sponsor, bias will result through a considerably reduced strike rate or guarded responses. The interviewer, explaining at the outset of the interview that the sponsor will be disclosed at the end of the interview, usually overcomes this.
Customers express their satisfaction in many ways. When they are satisfied, they mostly say nothing but return again and again to buy or use more. When asked how they feel about a company or its products in open-ended questioning they respond with anecdotes and may use terminology such as delighted, extremely satisfied, very dissatisfied etc.
Collecting the motleys variety of adjectives together from open ended responses would be problematical in a large survey. To overcome this problem market researchers ask people to describe a company using verbal or numeric scales with words that measure attitudes. People are used to the concept of rating things with numerical scores and these can work well in surveys.
Once the respondent has been given the anchors of the scale, they can readily give a number to express their level of satisfaction. Typically, scales of 5, 7 or 10 are used where the lowest figure indicates extreme dissatisfaction and the highest shows extreme satisfaction.
The stem of the scale is usually quite short since a scale of up to would prove too demanding for rating the dozens of specific issues that are often on the questionnaire. Measuring satisfaction is only half the story. The measurement of expectations or importance is more difficult than the measurement of satisfaction.
Many people do not know or cannot admit, even to themselves, what is important. Consumers do not spend their time rationalising why they do things, their views change and they may not be able to easily communicate or admit to the complex issues in the buying argument. The same interval scales of words or numbers are often used to measure importance — 5, 7 or 10 being very important and 1 being not at all important. However, most of the issues being researched are of some importance for otherwise they would not be considered in the study.
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Customer satisfaction is the degree to which there is match between the customer’s expectations of the product and the actual performance of the product. Expectations are formed based on information consumers receive from promotions, family, friends, opinion leaders, research, and past experience with the product.
# Customer Satisfaction Program - Dinghy Towing Causing Tire Squeal - (Mar 2, ) Subject: — Dinghy Towing Causing Tire Squeal Models: – Chevrolet Spark Reference Number: A Release Date: March Revision: 00 Attention: This program is in effect until March 31, Make Model Model Year . April 24, TO: All U.S. Ford and Lincoln Dealers SUBJECT: Customer Satisfaction Program 18M01 Certain Model Year FF and FF.
Program follow-up cards should not be used for this purpose, since the customer may not as yet have received the notification letter. In summary, whenever a vehicle subject to this program enters your vehicle inventory, or is in your facility for service through August 31, , you must take the steps necessary to be sure the program. ©, ITSMA | How to Build Successful Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty Programs That Drive Growth Listening: Gather Data and ChooseApproach The tendency in many companies is to equate the customer satisfaction survey with the overall program;.