The EMaC Blog July 2014

Price & Quality - Getting the Balance Right

Earlier this year, EMaC attended the North American Dealer Association (NADA) Convention in the USA. It is an ideal way of gaining insights from another market and helps the business to take a step back and consider how it can improve its products and service. One of the key research statistics that came out of this event was that in the USA 81% of consumers were prepared to pay a premium for high quality car servicing experience. It got us thinking, is that true in the UK and what is exactly equates to quality? So we asked.

As far as quality is concerned consumers consistently point to the hygiene factors of car safety and reliability. A car service is a ‘distress purchase,’ something the customer feels they have to do rather than want to do – and it is something that some customers will clearly delay, in spite of the potential issues this may raise as a way of delaying expenditure.

When a customer has their car serviced, they want to collect it believing that its safety and reliability has been at least sustained and ideally enhanced. It is in this area that ‘quality’ becomes apparent. Customers want the confidence that their car has been attended by a technician/mechanic with the right training and skills, using the right parts having taken the appropriate care to the required service and also to assess any other potential problems. Customers may not like paying for car servicing, but they care that their car is safe and reliable. In this instance, the most important part of the quality equation is trust.

Trust in car servicing is that intangible attribute that is a combination of factors:

Evidence - the right brand names, such as relevant franchise, certificate of training and competence, online reviews, recommendations from friends/family and often above all personal experience

Process - the booking is easy, the service desk act on any concerns, such as a worry about a noise from the back of the car, the car comes back clean, the old parts are available for inspection, calls are received on any identified problems that could be addressed whilst the car is serviced, the location is easy and convenient to access

BUT, above all of this are People and especially the service desk. A great service receptionist is central to the experience. They are the first and last point of contact and it is them the customers rely upon in co-ordinating their need for safety and reliability and their desire for a great buying personalised experience. It is a level of care that needs to be delivered before, during and after the service. As one customer noted; "I get my car serviced by Callum and Claire" ((the people on the service desk.

And yes, in the vast majority of cases the people we asked would pay a premium to deal with the people they trust to take care of their needs for their car. When this happens over 87% of customers who had a good experience on routine maintenance will return not only for future servicing but also for any necessary repairs as well.

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