Cadillac was ranked first in a recent measure of how well premium brands and dealerships helped vehicle shoppers on the website and in person. In the 2022 Pied Piper Prospect Satisfaction Index® (psi®) Premium Auto Study released today, Infiniti and Mercedes-Benz were ranked second and third out of 25 brands measured.
The study also measured new electric vehicle brands and found that their omnichannel shopping experiences were significantly below the industry average for premium brands.
Using Pied Piper’s PSI process, which links mystery shopping measurement to customer helpfulness and best selling practices, the 2022 PSI Premium Auto Study measured customer shopping experience, starting by being responsive to customer inquiries on the website and continuing when customers visited retailers in person.
“Today, almost all customers start their car purchases online. But most buyers still prefer to experience and appraise a vehicle in person, if given the opportunity,” said Fran O’Hagan, CEO of Pied Piper. “Some buyers know exactly what they want, but most still have questions or want to experience a test drive. The brands that are most useful to both types of buyers are those that are most likely to attract all customers over the long term. »
The measure of responsiveness to website customer requests was based on 22 exemplary behaviors, while in-person shopping effectiveness was based on more than 50 exemplary behaviors. Overall PSI rankings by brand were calculated using a 1,000-point scale, with 40% of the overall score based on responsiveness to customer requests on the website and 60% on the effectiveness of the in-person experience.
The 25 premium brands were assessed between July 2021 and June 2022, using 1,657 website customer inquiry response metrics and 1,096 in-person sales experience metrics. Note that inventory – or lack thereof – does not come into the equation. Pied Piper PSI’s in-person scoring does not penalize a dealership that does not have a suitable vehicle present at the dealership – measurements that cannot occur are recorded as “N/A”.
This year’s study was the first time several new electric vehicle brands – Lucid, Polestar and Rivian – were measured. Including Tesla, these brands interact with customers primarily online and have relatively few outlets. Lucid and Tesla own and control all of their outlets, while Rivian has a direct-to-consumer delivery model with no showroom to date. Polestar follows the traditional independent franchised dealership approach.
Lucid, Rivian and Tesla also handle most online customer interactions centrally rather than through individual outlets. This centralized ownership and control means that brands are able to structure the steps in the sales process for their employees to follow, both online and in person. The study measured whether the customer selling experience for these brands was well-defined and consistent from customer to customer and location to location. The short answer: these new EV brands leave a lot of room for improvement in terms of customer management.
“With an online orientation and few outlets, these new EV brands have a great opportunity to excel with phone, chat and email interactions with their customers, to make up for the lack of in-person experience. of the customer,” O’Hagan said. . “However, we’ve found that when their customers seek help or ask questions, they typically encounter brand representatives who only answer simple, scripted questions without being proactively helpful. This is a missed opportunity. which does not currently make up for the missing retail experience.”
As for the only established electric vehicle brand, as Tesla’s volume has grown, the shopping experience has not evolved with it. Comparing Pied Piper’s in-person studies completed in 2019, 2021, and 2022, where Tesla was once above average or even leading the industry in several categories, it’s now fallen below average in the most cases, including his overall score in person. In fact, Tesla’s in-person score in 2019 would have put it ahead of the 2022 pack, but their sales methodology has morphed more into order taking than customer support.
“Tesla compares poorly today to help website customers as well,” O’Hagan said. “Tesla’s model today seems to be, ‘If you want what we’re selling and don’t need any support, it’s easy to order. “”
Also for the first time, the PSI study measured seven high-priced “exotic” car brands: Aston Martin, Bentley, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, McLaren and Rolls-Royce. These brands pride themselves on personal service as part of their vehicles’ elite status, but the Pied Piper study showed that each brand has a distinct definition of the term.
“There’s a lot of variability in the performance of exotic brands,” O’Hagan said. “For example, Ferrari dealerships would be ranked at the top, sixth of 25 brands, for their in-person customer experience, but they are near the bottom in responding to customer inquiries on the website. In contrast, Maserati dealerships excel in website response, but lag behind most of the industry in their dealership customer experience.
PSI Pied Piper® Studies have been published annually since 2007. The 2022 Pied Piper PSI Premium Auto (USA) study was conducted between July 2021 and June 2022 and was based on 1,657 metrics of responding to customer inquiries on the website and 1,096 measures of in-person sales experience. . As Rivian did not have a dealership, Rivian’s “in-person” measurement was instead conducted by customers contacting the brand via phone call, to give the brand the opportunity to interact in a manner similar to this that would otherwise have occurred in person at a retail location.
About the Pied Piper Prospect Satisfaction Index® (psi®)
Since 2007, automakers and their retailers have relied on Pied Piper’s fact-based Prospect Satisfaction Index® or PSI® to measure and report on how effectively retailers are helping their customers become buyers. Complete Pied Piper PSI industry research results are provided to automotive manufacturers and national dealer groups. Manufacturers, national dealer groups, and individual dealers also commission ongoing PSI assessments — in person, over the Internet, or over the phone — as tools to measure and improve the effectiveness of their dealerships’ omnichannel sales.
Examples of other recent PSI studies are the 2022 Internet Lead Effectiveness® US Automotive Industry Study (Nissan’s Infiniti Brand Ranked #1) and Internet Prospect Effectiveness in 2022® US Motorcycle/UTV Industry Study (Harley-Davidson was ranked first). For more information on the Prospect Satisfaction Index and the fact-based PSI process, visit www.piedpiperpsi.com.
Founded in 2003, Pied Piper Management Company, LLC is a privately held Monterey, CA company that helps brands improve their retailers’ omnichannel sales performance.