The Automotive sector in Australia is evolving. Supply chain issues continue to affect the availability of new vehicles and parts; electric vehicles are disrupting the market; and an influx of new brands in the past few years is putting pressure on more established players to up their game.
So, is the industry stepping up to address these new challenges for their customers?
Recently released results from CSBA’s SenseCX Quality Benchmarking program suggest improvement is needed. In fact, the Sector Benchmark score has been on the decline for six successive quarters, contrary to trends in other sectors, where results are more stable or have seen improvement.
SenseCX is a Quality Assurance framework that measures the quality of customer interactions with an organisation’s Contact Centre, based on three factors – Success, Ease and Sentiment. CSBA publishes the SenseCX Quality Assurance benchmark results each quarter.
One hundred and ninety-two major Australian companies from eight sectors were included in the latest SenseCX results, where independent assessments by CSBA specialists were completed via anonymous telephone conversations, between July 2022 to June 2023.
In the Automotive sector, CSBA assessed a sample of customer interactions from nine automotive companies, contacting their centralised customer service lines. The vast majority of these brands sit firmly in the bottom half of the overall rankings. As a sector, the (median) Benchmark result was 50.5% and the average score for the Top 5 Performers was just 53.6%. Compare this to the Education sector, where the Benchmark sits at 58.2%, and the Top 5 Performers’ average sits at 78.4%, leaving considerable opportunities for improvement.
“Customers want their interactions with providers to be easy, effective, and engaging. In the interactions that CSBA assessed, behaviours that drive Ease scores were sorely lacking”, says CSBA Managing Director, Paul van Veenendaal. Agents did not instil a sense of ownership and buy-in around the customer’s enquiry, and they did not bring additional valuable information into the conversation to differentiate themselves from competitors. While traditionally the lowest scoring SenseCX Index overall, the sector averaged just 31.3%, compared to 44.3% in Education, 36.2% in the Utilities sector, 34.4% in Financial Services, and an overall average of 36.5%.
A similar story is evident for behaviours that drive Success scores – which averaged 58.2% across the sector, compared to 60.8% overall and 83.4% for the Top 5 Performers. While in almost all interactions the agent under assessment offered basic answers to the customer’s questions, only one in five asked effective questions to fully understand the customer’s needs, and less than two thirds provided a thorough and detailed response. Says van Veenendaal, “Critically, in less than half of the interactions assessed, was there evidence that agents attempted to manage their customer’s expectations around timelines and outcomes, a key behaviour in light of the industry’s supply chain issues”.
Of course, the importance of so-called ‘soft skills’ during customer interactions cannot be understated. Assessed under the Sentiment banner by CSBA, the automotive sector is loosely on par with the overall average (62.5% compared to 64.4%), but considerably behind the Top 5 Performers (who average 86.8%). Seemingly straightforward behaviours that aim to make the customer feel valued as an individual scored poorly. “Only one in five agents that we spoke to used the customer’s name, and only one in ten created a personalised moment with the customer, to try to develop the sort of personal connection that leads to brand loyalty,” says van Veenendaal.
The changing nature of customer expectations means that the quality of customer interactions in the automotive sector must match or exceed the experiences customers have when interacting with other organisations. When customers converse with someone working under a brand – whether they be in a central contact centre or through the dealership network – that customer should know that they can expect consistent, high-quality interactions that are successful, easy, and that leave them feeling positive about the brand. CSBA’s study shows that the industry could benefit from investing in its frontline staff in order to meet the ever-evolving expectations of its customers.
Automotive Sector Organisations Assessed July 2022 to June 2023
- Meritor (automotive parts supplier)