American clients have a clear fixed concept in their minds: “I-pay-so-I-demand”; to make even more clear this idea, in US customers are called consumers.
In the Old Continent we know that American consumers are very demanding in terms of quality of products and services: they have exported Customer Satisfaction worldwide.
Even in bars and fast-food – also with a bill of 5$ or 10$ – it is given a questionnaire to assess the degree of satisfaction with the waiters and cooks: “You are fired” is the refrain that terrorizes employees scarcely customer-oriented.
You can imagine what happens with an expensive commodity as the automobile: in the 50’s the epic battles of Ralph Nader forced manufacturers to take in consideration the rights of the buyers; today to monitor the consumer rights exist Government Authorities such as NHTSA and esteemed independent organizations like JD Power and ACSI who publish authoritative studies.
In the Internet age, thanks to Tripadvisor, Edmunds and DealerRater it’s highly dangerous to approach the American consumers with the same attitudes still accepted in Europe.
According to the new ACSI Research (American Customer Satisfacion Index) published on August 25th, in 2015 the honor of “the most hated brand in US” is well-earned by Fiat which appears at the last place in the ranking of the OEMs.
In the US the ACSI’s study has been broadcasted and commented with clamor, even NADA published the results in its website – whilst the same study has been completely ignored in Europe – perhaps because American customers have different expectations than those of the Europeans.
The ACSI report results are exactly-the-same of the Annual Appeal Study 2015 Total Quality Index by JD Power (the voice of the consumers), mentioned inappropriately by the FCA spokesman in a public announcement given to CBS that released the datas of the study.
ACSI has analyzed the experiences of thousands of car owners who purchased a new car from six months to three years before the survey, which means that many of those customers are already considering the purchase of another new car, and their satisfaction with the brand will be critical during the new decision-making process.
ACSI, JD Power and NADA they well know this correlation!
Interestingly, in general customer satisfaction in the US fell by 3 points (out of 100) compared with 2014, which could be due to the record number of recalls and to an increase in car prices, triggered as soon as the US car sales numbers are returned to growth …
Among the brands with more pronounced declines: Honda, Chevrolet and Jeep.
The NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) noted that in 2014 in America were recalled nearly 64 million vehicles for safety problems. The most striking were those of General Motors (about 27 million vehicles), followed by Honda (8.9 million vehicles) and Fiat Chrysler (8.8 million recalls).
On August 26, Marchionne presented to the American FCA dealers the products and the programs for the upcoming years.
No mention to the scarce results of the Customer Satisfaction, but – as said by Bloomberg’s analysts: “Powerpoint presentations are much simpler than the real life.”
So the acronym FIAT – as in 1982, when they retired from the North American market due to serious quality problems on Strada – will continue to be distorted in “Fix It Again Tony”: certainly not a compliment!
Think positive: it seems that the Fiat Strada has been the first car of Obama!