Cadillac ranked highest in a recent measure of how effectively premium brands and dealers helped both website and car buyers. In the 2022 Pied Piper Prospect Satisfaction Index® (PSI®) Premium Auto Study released today, Infiniti and Mercedes-Benz ranked second and third among the 25 brands measured.
The survey also measured new electric vehicle brands and found that their omnichannel shopping experiences significantly lagged the industry average for premium brands.
Using Pied Piper’s PSI process, which links measuring mystery shopping with customer friendliness and best selling practices, the 2022 PSI Premium Auto Study measured customers’ shopping experience, starting with responding to customer inquiries on the website, and continued when customers visited retailers in person.
“Almost all customers nowadays start their car shopping online. But most buyers also still prefer to experience and evaluate a vehicle in person, if given the chance,” said Fran O’Hagan, CEO of Pied Piper. “Some shoppers know exactly what they want, but most still have questions or want to experience a test drive. Brands that are most useful to both types of shoppers are the ones that are most attractive to all customers in the long run.”
The measurement of responsiveness to questions from website customers was based on 22 best-practice behaviors, while the effectiveness of in-person shopping was based on more than 50 best-practice behaviors. The overall PSI ranking by brand was calculated using a 1000-point scale, with 40% of the total score based on response to customer inquiries on the website and 60% on the effectiveness of the personal experience.
The 25 premium brands were evaluated between July 2021 and June 2022 with 1,657 measurements of response to customer inquiries on the website and 1,096 measurements of the personal selling experience. Note that inventory – or lack thereof – is not included in the equation. Pied Piper PSI personal scoring is not detrimental to a dealer who does not have a suitable vehicle at the dealership – readings that cannot be taken will be recorded as “N/A”.
This year’s study marked the first time measuring several new electric vehicle brands – Lucid, Polestar and Rivian. Including Tesla, these brands primarily interact with customers online and have relatively few retail locations. Lucid and Tesla own and manage all of their retail locations, while Rivian has a direct-to-consumer delivery model with no showrooms to date. Polestar follows the traditional approach of independent franchisees.
Lucid, Rivian and Tesla also handle most of the online customer interaction centrally rather than through individual retail locations. This centralized ownership and control means the brands can structure the steps of the sales process to be followed by their employees, both online and in person. The study measured whether the customer sales 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 customer handling.
“With an online focus and few retail locations, these new EV brands have a great opportunity to excel with phone, chat and email interactions with their customers, compensating for the lack of a personalized customer experience,” said O’Hagan. . “However, we’ve found that when their customers reach out for help or questions, they’re usually met with brand representatives who only answer simple, scripted questions without proactively being helpful. It’s a missed opportunity that currently doesn’t make up for the missing shopping experience.” .”
As for the only established EV brand, as Tesla’s volume has grown, the shopping experience has not scaled with it. If we compare Pied Piper’s personal surveys completed in 2019, 2021 and 2022, where Tesla was once above average, or even led the industry in multiple categories, it has now fallen below average in most cases, including overall personal data. score. In fact, Tesla’s personal score of 2019 would have placed him at the top of the 2022 package, but their sales methodology has transformed more into order taking than customer service.
“Tesla is doing poorly today when it comes to helping website customers,” O’Hagan said. “Tesla’s model today seems to be, ‘If you like what we’re selling and don’t need any help, it’s easy to order.'”
Also for the first time, the PSI survey measured seven expensive, ‘exotic’ car brands: Aston Martin, Bentley, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, McLaren and Rolls-Royce. These brands pride themselves on personalized service as part of their vehicles’ elite status, but the Pied Piper study showed that each brand has a clear definition of the term.
“There’s quite a bit of variation in the performance of the exotic brands,” O’Hagan said. “For example, Ferrari dealers would rank highly, sixth out of 25 brands, for their customers’ personal experience, but they are near the bottom for answering customer questions through the website. Maserati dealers, on the other hand, excel in response to websites, but follow most of the industry for their customers’ dealer experience.”
Pied Piper PSI® Surveys have been published annually since 2007. The Pied Piper PSI Premium Auto Study (US) in 2022 was conducted between July 2021 and June 2022 and was based on 1,657 measurements of response to customer inquiries on the website and 1,096 measurements of the personal sales experience. Since Rivian had no dealer locations, Rivian’s “personal” measurement was instead taken by customers contacting the brand by phone, to give the brand a chance to communicate in a manner similar to what would otherwise have happened in person on a store location.
About 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 how effectively retailers are helping their customers become buyers. Full Pied Piper PSI industry research results are provided to automakers and national dealer groups. Manufacturers, national dealer groups and individual dealers also order ongoing PSI assessments – in person, web or telephone – as tools to measure and improve the omnichannel sales effectiveness of their dealers.
Examples of other recent PSI studies include the 2022 Internet Lead Effectiveness® US Auto Industry Study (Nissan’s Infiniti brand ranked first) and the 2022 Internet Lead Effectiveness® US Motorcycle/UTV Industry Study (Harley-Davidson was ranked first). For more information about the Prospect Satisfaction Index and the fact-based PSI process, please visit www.piedpiperpsi.com.
Founded in 2003, Pied Piper Management Company, LLC is a privately held company in Monterey, California that helps brands improve the omnichannel sales performance of their retailers.