Results from the NAFA Foundation’s 2003 auto manufacturer fleet customer satisfaction survey found that availability of optional features and competitive pricing earned significantly higher ratings than the previous year’s survey.

Improvements, including value for money paid, residual value, and vehicle quality, showed promise and were deemed top priority for further progress in years to come.

Highest Satisfaction Ratings
Areas that consistently earned the highest satisfaction ratings among fleet managers included: condition of the vehicles at time of delivery, knowledgeable and professional primary fleet contacts, and driver satisfaction with vehicles. (See Chart 1.)

Additionally, manufacturers’ fleet Web sites, including usefulness, ease of access, available product information, and navigation ease, gained significantly in ratings, as did timing issues including vehicle availability, order status updates, and length of time from order to delivery.

Fleet managers ranked manufacturers high for better fleet incentives, followed by improved product information and good customer service. (See Chart 2.)

Making Progress
Despite overall progress in customer service since 2000, fleet managers continued to strive for perfection. A moderate Customer Service Index (CSI) rating of 70.2 signaled that further efforts were needed to meet and exceed customer expectations.

In a significant change from previous NAFA Foundation surveys, product value and performance escalated in priority in fleet managers’ expectations of manufacturers. In 2000, manufacturer representatives’ responsiveness and understanding of customer needs were considered top improvement priorities. In 2003, product value, pricing, and quality headed the list of improvement priorities, reflecting a new focus on vehicle economy and performance. (See Chart 3.) See Chart 4

Fleet managers focused attention on product value and vehicle qualities to ensure that their concerns were addressed by manufacturers supporting NAFA. Additionally, fleet managers stressed the importance of strengthening relationships with manufacturers’ representatives and recorded high expectations for reps’ responsiveness, business understanding, and problem solving. This resulted in recent gains in customer satisfaction.

Customer Satisfaction Index
The CSI is comprised of six factors. Two major factors, vehicle qualities and primary fleet contact, saw considerable changes in 2003 compared to the 2000-2002 surveys. In 2003, vehicle quality jumped to 34 percent in importance for customer satisfaction from 28 percent in previous surveys, and primary fleet contact fell to 29 percent from 33 percent. Other factors, including Web site, information center, timing issues, and buyer’s guide, accounted for a combined 37 percent of the CSI in 2003.

Top Improvement Priority Scores (IPS)
In 2003, increasing product value and performance emerged at the top of fleet managers’ improvement priorities, while interaction and primary fleet contact service notably declined to less-important status.

Improvements noted over time included: programs/services, accounting for a 28-percent improvement; customer service at 21 percent; products at 12 percent; information/communication at 11 percent; rates/prices at 9 percent; and timeliness at 6 percent.

In the 2000-2003 surveys, fleet managers credited manufacturers for offering better fleet incentives. In 2003, fewer than one in 20 fleet managers noted increased rep contact and communication as a service improvement.