Consumer research and ratings firm, Canstar Blue, surveyed more than 2600 motorists across the country and found the cost of fuel was only the third biggest driving factor of overall customer satisfaction, behind service and appearance.
Head of Canstar Blue, Megan Doyle, says there is a perception that fuel prices vary little between different service stations, so consumers consider other factors when determining where to fill up.
“For some motorists, the bottom line is the only thing that matters. But others are clearly looking for more when they pull-in for fuel, and they’re more likely to return if they have a good experience,” Doyle said.
“That includes having helpful, pleasant staff – which isn’t always something you would associate with servos. In recent years the big chains have focussed their attention on improving their overall package. They’re no longer just competing over the cost of fuel, they’re competing to offer the best facilities, the best snacks and groceries, and the best coffee.
“Would you rather pull into a modern looking, clean station with lots of others things to buy, or drive further down the road to an old, dingy-looking servo? There’s a reason why the big chains invest so heavily in the appearance of their stations. Image is hugely important.”
The survey, of motorists who have refuelled their vehicle at a service station in the last month, found that 39 per cent always fill up at the same place, while 13 per cent often visit a servo to buy things like drinks or snacks even if they don’t need fuel.
“It’s fascinating to see the evolution of service stations into more than just a place where you stop to fill-up your car,” added Doyle.
“Supermarket loyalty schemes and discount vouchers also promote service station loyalty, and encourage us to buy other items for sale at that outlet. Consumers are generally happy to go along with such offers if they think it will save them a few dollars at the bowser.”
Respondents to the survey were asked to rate the service station they most recently visited across a range of research criteria, including the cost of fuel, customer service, and appearance.
Australian-owned, United Petroleum, scored top marks for service, appearance, price of petrol and overall customer satisfaction.
“It takes a lot for motorists to compliment a service station on the price of fuel, but that’s exactly what United customers do,” said Doyle.
“This is the fifth year in a row that United has stood out from the crowd with regards to fuel price and overall satisfaction. Congratulations to United on another outstanding result.”