Brisbane consulting firm Engaged Strategy today released findings from its 2010 Benchmarking survey outlining customer experience outcomes for the automotive industry. With a Net Promoter Score of 35%, Subaru customers are far more likely to recommend them to friends and colleagues, and significantly outperformed rivals such as Ford and General Motors Holden in the customer experience stakes.

Engaged Strategy Founder and CEO Chris Roberts said the research also demonstrates the massive impact negative customer comments can have on an organisation.

“Our research shows that for every one negative comment made about a particular car, it takes around five positive referrals to negate that damage. In 2009 the ABS reported over 12 million registered passenger vehicles in Australia. This means there may be as many as 17 million negative comments being made by customers about their car manufacturer every year,” Mr Roberts said.

1,720 automobile owners were invited to rate their experience and companies were ranked using the highly regarded Net Promoter Score which measures the likelihood to recommend which is a higher order metric than mere satisfaction which is now par for the course if you are in business. Nine of the biggest car manufacturers in Australia were assessed in the innovative survey, including the loyalty leader Subaru as well as Honda, Toyota, Holden, Ford and Mazda, Hyundai, Nissan and Mitsubishi.

In an industry renowned for product review and recommendation, it’s astonishing that  three of the nine car companies achieved negative scores based on their customers’ experience, with one company achieving -18%, a stark contrast when compared to Subaru’s result.

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“Net Promoter Score is widely recognised as one of the most accurate measures of customer loyalty and importantly is a proven predictor of business growth,” Mr Roberts said.

“Based on the scores achieved, it seems certain that some car companies in particular have huge potential to grow simply by focusing on improving their customer experiences and value propositions. In the highly competitive car sales industry, achieving a positive customer experience, first time, is more important than ever”.

“There has never been a more critical time to go back to basics and focus on the customer. The continued strong utilisation of social media injects an additional element of urgency because everyone knows word of mouth is the most effective marketing channel available to customers,” he said.

And just in case you thought the importance of word of mouth had lost its edge, according to the Engaged Strategy survey, recommendations from friends or family still has the greatest influence on purchase decisions by a mile with a staggering 45% of consumers choosing word of mouth as the greatest influence on their purchase decision in comparison to other marketing mediums.

Engaged Strategy is a strategic marketing consultancy focused on helping businesses grow by developing fresh customer, marketing and organisational strategies. Engaged Strategy is an approved Net Promoter Score®   Loyalty Partner. Chris Roberts is an Industry Fellow at the University of Queensland, Australia. The full <strong>2010 Benchmarking Study</strong> is available from Engaged Strategy.

Net Promoter, NPS and <a href=””>Net Promoter Score</a> are registered trademarks of Satmetrix Systems Inc., Bain &amp; Company and Fred Reichheld