Quality in Two-Wheelers On the Rise

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Interview with Kaustav Roy in AutoTechReview Magazine

Read the online article here.

Indian two-wheeler OEMs have made significant improvements in quality in the last year or so and problems reported by consumers have declined. This was one of the key takeaways from our conversation with Kaustav Roy, Director, JD Power Asia Pacific, who talked about some interesting trends reflected in the two-wheeler study carried out by the marketing information services company.

STUDY FINDINGS

This is second version of the study, after having introduced the inaugural version of the two-wheeler quality and appeal study in 2015. The company also launched its inaugural 2-Wheeler Customer Service Study (2WCSI), signifying the competitive pressure from independent workshops providing similar service as OE workshops. The IQS more specifically refers to the problems faced by consumers in the initial period of buying the vehicle. The highlight in the Initial Quality Study (IQS) study, when reviewing the changes in a year, turned out to be the overall quality improvement by OEMs in the country.

Speaking about the key problems reported by consumers, Roy highlighted fuel-efficiency, which is an issue even for four-wheelers in India. Kick start too has been reported by many for requiring more number of operations than desired to get the engine started, especially on the first start of the day. Thereafter, there are minor issues such as fit & finish and noise from the chain. For scooters as well, starting problems, paint peel-offs and fit & finish issues were reported.

Segments covered in the study involve motorcycles for entry-level commuters to the segment where Royal Enfield operates. The company hasn't forayed into the high-end of the market involving foreign makers as the required mass of buyers for the study isn't easy to find yet.

The appealing factors for consumers, or the drivers of satisfaction for scooters, were mainly seats and engine & transmission, while for motorcycles it was fuel-efficiency and ride & handling. As the motorcycle segments grow, engine & transmission starts becoming more important as customers prioritise acceleration and power. An interesting observation from the study was that people who have a pillion rider tend to report more problems. This is not due to the extra weight of the pillion rider but due to different people judging the same product, and also the pillion not having to focus entirely on the road and traffic.

When asked about influx of features in two-wheelers in recent times, Roy said that the study points out that more features in general lead to reporting of more problems. Clarifying the statement further, he added that customers do not dislike the features but desire better execution of those features. In addition, dealerships need to explain these features in a better manner to customers at the time of purchase so that they can optimally use such features.

2-WHEELER CUSTOMER SERVICE INDEX

The inaugural study measures customer satisfaction with the after-sales service experience at original equipment (OE) authorised service centres between the first 12 to 24 months of ownership. The study focuses on what matters most to customers, when they take their two-wheeler in for service and also analyses the processes that define the service experience.

The study measures overall satisfaction in five factors, listed in order of importance: vehicle pick-up (22 %); service advisor (21 %); service quality (20 %); service facility (19 %); and service initiation (18 %). Overall, TVS Motors ranked highest in customer satisfaction with after-sales service with a score of 773, performing particularly well in all five factors. Suzuki (764) ranked second and Royal Enfield ranked third (758).

The 2016 India 2WCSI Study is based on evaluations from 7,270 two-wheeler owners in 45 cities across India. These owners purchased a new two-wheeler between November 2013 and March 2015 and had a service experience within three months of evaluation. The study includes 10 two-wheeler makers and over 75 two-wheeler models, and was fielded from November 2015 to March 2016.

Text: Arpit Mahendra

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