October 20, 2003
Is The Customer Always Right?
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We've been led to believe that all product manufacturers live by the creed, "The customer is always right." I've wondered for some time, though, if that statement is just a figment of my imagination and a thing of the past for many types of products, but especially in the automotive sector. My sentiment was echoed and confirmed this week in a report on a survey conducted by the Automotive Practices Group of Cap Gemini Ernst & Young (
www.cgey.com), a large consulting, technology, and outsourcing services provider.
The fifth annual study revealed that consumers are not getting everything they want from automotive dealers and vehicle manufacturers. Across the vehicle lifecycle, consumers demonstrate needs, wants and preferences that the industry does not appear to be aware of. As a result, automotive companies are missing important opportunities to unlock hidden value.
The study, which surveyed consumers, dealers and manufacturers in Canada, United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Sweden and Italy, compares consumers' actual needs, demands, and preferences with dealers' and vehicle manufacturers' perceptions. The report focuses on topics such as consumer behavior, data capture/demand sensing, the Internet, and the aftersales experience.
relationships with vehicle manufacturers and dealers."
The Cars Online 2003 study revealed a number of key findings, including:
marketing/advertising efforts instead of taking a more integrated campaign approach that includes increased use of targeted direct marketing with a more 'personal' touch.
The Ernst & Young study was telling in many respects but really drives the point home that automotive manufacturers are not listening enough to what their customers truly need and want. Instead, they try and force what they think the customer wants. And although the automotive industry was singled out for this study, it is hardly alone in the way it treats its customers. Unfortunately, this behavior is pervasive in many other product market segments, as well. Because of what I perceive as an increasing disregard by many manufacturers for what people really want in the products they produce, I'm beginning to wonder if the customer is ever right anymore.
--Jeffrey Rowe is Editor and Publisher of MCADCafé and MCADWeekly Review. He can be reached at
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-- Jeff Rowe, MCADCafe.com Contributing Editor.
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