Car industry jargon a ‘barrier to communication’, finds survey

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We regularly report on stories of consumers finding business jargon baffling. From the workplace buzzwords that no one really understands to the jargon causing confusion on financial services company websites, examples seem to be everywhere.

This month, it’s the motor industry’s turn in the spotlight, after a UK fleet management company published the results of a survey showing that more than half (56%) of customers have been left confused by industry abbreviations or jargon.

LeasePlan UK’s poll also highlighted that more than a third of customers (38%) felt finance or motor industry jargon actually put them off purchasing a product or service.

Only 10% of those questioned said that they could understand all of the abbreviations and jargon used and give an elevator pitch explaining them.

Industry jargon ‘putting customers off’

“We know that jargon can lead to misunderstandings, leaving drivers exposed to unforeseen costs and risks,” said Matt Dyer, Managing Director of LeasePlan UK.

“It is alarming to see how industry abbreviations and jargon are putting customers off purchasing products or services that could be beneficial to them or the business they work for.

“As an industry, we need to realise when this could apply and take responsibility for explaining anything complicated to customers in a clear and simple way,” said Dyer.

Nearly two-thirds of respondents (64%) believe that jargon or abbreviations create a barrier to communication, found the survey.

This view is even more common among older customers, with almost three-quarters (74%) of those aged over 65 agreeing, compared to just under half (46%) of 18-24 year olds.

The research also found that men felt more confident than women about asking for help understanding jargon or abbreviations, with 39% of male respondents saying they felt very confident in doing so, compared to 28% of female respondents.

Staff training to improve customer communication

“Terms used in the world of motoring can be confusing to those who do not use them on a regular basis,” said Dyer. “That is why we have introduced a clearer, jargon free way of communicating with customers.”

To improve communication, the firm has put in place a company-wide staff training programme, with the aim of making purchasing a product or service simpler for its customers.

“We see it is as our responsibility to explain our products and services in a clear and simple way – so our customers can make the right choice for them,” said Dyer.

LeasePlan UK’s survey was carried out among more than 2,000 consumers, and asked them about their understanding of the following motor industry terms:

  • SORN
  • PCP
  • P11D
  • Depreciation
  • Hire Purchase
  • Residual Value
  • Personal Contract Hire
  • Salary Sacrifice
  • Contract Hire
  • Finance Lease

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