With declining new-vehicle sales in Thailand, automotive dealers are paying closer attention to their customers, which is resulting in higher customer satisfaction with the new-vehicle sales experience, according to the J.D. Power 2016 Thailand Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) Study, SM mass market segment. As the automotive industry in Thailand suffers its fourth consecutive year of declining sales, automotive dealers are working even harder as they compete for business from a smaller pool of buyers and customers are appreciating the extra attention they are getting from the dealership, as overall satisfaction with the sales process improves to 811 (on a 1,000-point scale) in 2016 from 801 in 2015.
Furthermore, the proportion of delighted customers—those who rate their overall purchase experience 10 (on a 10-point scale)—increases to 22% from 8% a year ago. “Dealers overall are doing a great job of enhancing the sales process to delight customers, and they must remain committed to this cause,” said Siros Satrabhaya, country manager at J.D. Power Thailand.
“Focusing on price cuts and giveaways to attract customers is not sustainable in the long run. Instead, dealers must work on developing personal connections with their customers so that when the market picks up, they will be better positioned to gain from customers’ repurchase and recommendation activities.” Customers are increasingly driving a harder bargain, with their pre-shopping research focusing on learning where to get the best deal.
The study finds that 58% of customers are using the internet to research their new-vehicle purchase, and two of the three most often searched topics are related to getting the best deal: vehicle pricing (78%); product brochures (60%); and promotions (52%). Additionally, 51% of all customers indicate receiving discounts and getting additional freebies from their dealer, including accessories (93%); first year of auto insurance (86%); and vehicle service packages (18%). Despite receiving discounts and more freebies, 9% of customers say they paid more than expected for their vehicle,a sharp increase from 2% in 2014. “To lift satisfaction levels even higher, salespeople who are able to demonstrate how the vehicle is a value-for-money product can help steer customers away from being fixated on the price,” saidSatrabhaya.
“Understanding their customers, their family profile and their usage needs, along with providing relevant comparisons with competing models are some effective ways to achieve that.” Now in its 17th year, the study examines six factors that contribute to overall customer satisfaction with their new-vehicle purchase experience in the mass market segment. In order of impact on overall sales satisfaction, those factors are delivery process (19%); dealer facility (19%); sales initiation (17%); deal (16%); delivery timing (15%); and salesperson (15%).