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Tesla Customer Issues Exposed by Bloomberg Survey

Back in January, Tesla CEO Elon Musk stated that his “number one” priority was to improve Tesla’s service operation.  But has he really made any progress on that?  Some answers may be found in a survey being conducted by Bloomburg.com for Tesla Model 3 owners.  While Tesla and its customer service may leave much to be desired, the company managed to make some improvements in other areas.

Tesla Customer Service Remains Disappointing

Over 5,000 customers have responded to the survey so far, and the trend of customer dissatisfaction remains pretty consistent.  Respondents shared that their rate of dissatisfaction with the timeliness of service has nearly tripled since the start of 2018, while their frustration with the quality of initial repairs has increased almost the same amount.  Customers also reported having to wait longer for service appointments, with a third of them having to wait over 10 days for service during the last quarter of this year. 

How one contacts Tesla for customer service results in vastly different rates of satisfaction.  Those who worked with mobile service vehicles via Tesla’s phone app were generally very pleased with the service they received, while those who contacted the company via phone or email rated their experiences among the worst in this 164-question survey.

Brick-and-Mortar Stores Remain Important

When Tesla made the big announcement earlier this year that it would be eliminating its retail stores so that it could move all car purchases online, it obviously did not expect the backlash it received from customers and investors.  Thankfully it did not take Tesla long to revert its stance and keep most of its stores open.

The survey revealed that Tesla made the right choice.  Tesla’s stores have very high satisfaction ratings, and 72 percent of buyers stated that they visited a Tesla store before purchasing their vehicle. 

Improvements are Happening

While Tesla’s customer service remains disappointing, there are other areas where owners reported vast improvement.  The wait time for collision repairs has dropped significantly since 2018, when customers reported an average 32-day wait for their body shop to receive the parts needed.  As of the third quarter of this year, customers report only a 13-day average wait. 

The need for service appointments for Model 3 owners has also fallen sharply.  While owners reported the need for 61 service appointments per 100 vehicles in January 2018, by September of this year, the number had dropped to only 10 appointments per 100 vehicles. Part of that likely has to do with improved manufacturing quality, which used to be a huge problem for Tesla. 

The Takeaway

While the survey reveals both good and bad, it is important to remember that Tesla’s unique approach to its company, its automobile sales, and its service is very unlike what other companies in this industry do.  It has a tendency to jump into a previously untried idea headfirst and see what happens, fixing problems as they occur rather than planning ahead for them.  While this system can be frustrating at the best of times, Tesla does seem genuinely interested in improving things for their customers.  Hopefully this means it keeps pushing forward to correct these issues rather than allowing them to continue spiraling out of control. 

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