Tesla Delivers Automotive Delight

April 19, 2022 / Ben Bajarin

Tesla overwhelmingly delights owners scoring 965 on the Delight Scale.

  • Tesla automobiles exceed the expectations of most customers
  • Tesla owners highly recommend Tesla’s
  • Tesla owner behavior insights
  • Tesla Critiques

Could Tesla be the most delightful automotive experience? Using our Delight Scale, we can make a strong case that Tesla provides the most delightful, mainstream automotive experience based on our product research. I point out mainstream automotive experience because I’m sure Ferrari, Porsche, Maserati, and many other owners of high-end automobiles would say their cars are delightful. However, those cars are out of reach for most people.

A customer rarely uses a product that ultimately challenges everything they knew about the category. However, based on our customer experience research on Tesla automobiles, it is clear for most Tesla owners, that not only did their Tesla overwhelmingly delight them, but it also set a new bar for what automobile experiences should be. In many ways, Tesla owners’ first experience with their Tesla was similar to many iPhone owners’ first experience switching to an iPhone from a flip phone. Once you used it, there was no going back. Tesla cars could very well be the iPhone moment of the automotive industry for owners. 

We offered Tesla owners the chance to share some of their experiences with us. Below are a few sentiments that we found which were commonly shared by the hundreds of customers in our survey.

One of the core elements in the Delight Scale is to measure a customer’s product experience compared to their expectations. One of the main contributing factors to Tesla’s high Delight score was that we saw some of the highest ratings from customers, stating their Tesla experience was much better than expected. This was underscored by 44% of Tesla owners saying they had very high expectations of Tesla prior to purchasing and their Tesla exceeded those already high expectations.

Tesla is Highly Recommended
Another standout experience indicator of Tesla automobiles was how highly recommended Tesla’s are by owners. 87% of Tesla owners are highly likely/likely to recommend a Tesla to someone in their social circle. Furthermore, 91% of Tesla owners have recommended Tesla to another person. Going even further still, 80% of Tesla owners are extremely confident/confident that someone buying a Tesla will have a positive experience.

The high recommendation and Tesla owners’ confidence in recommending a Tesla to someone else speaks volumes to customers’ overall positive experience with their Tesla. Understanding this dynamic is key to understanding any great product. Great products get talked about, and this is undoubtedly true about Tesla. Half of all Tesla owners in our survey indicated they shared a positive experience about their Tesla, unprompted, with someone in their social circle.

Tesla Owner Behavior Insights
What made studying Tesla owners interesting to us was not just benchmarking how delightful a car it is for owners. We also know Tesla has the largest installed base of EVs of any automotive brand. We were quite confident the Tesla owner base would shed some insights into the broader market and technology around EVs. 

Battery-powered EVs (BEV) require a big change in behavior around charging which requires more intentionality in how you get your car ready(charged) to be used. This goes from charging at home the night before you head to the office in the morning or planning your trips based on where you know you will have charging stations. One of the biggest factors in Tesla’s favor is its network of charging stations that give Tesla owners the confidence to complete long trips and still have opportunities to charge their Teslas while on their journey. We wanted to look at what the charging behaviors of Tesla owners were, and below are some of the highlights:

  • 46% charge their Tesla’s at home daily. 41% charge at home a few times a week
  • 45% charge at a Tesla Supercharging station weekly
  • 68% of Tesla owners indicated they rarely to never worry about having enough range to complete a trip
  • 67% said they rarely to never had to wait more than 30 min to charge at a Supercharging station

Tesla is arguably the most advanced EV on the market, offering a range of future-forward technologies not offered by other EV automotive companies. We asked Tesla owners how much trust they have for some of these advanced technologies.

  • 80% of Tesla owners indicated high to moderate trust of Autopilot
  • Of those who have tried Summon, 49% have high to moderate trust of the feature
  • 55% have high to moderate trust of Tesla’s ability to park itself
  • 48% have high to moderate trust of Tesla’s full self driving mode

Somewhat unsurprisingly, we saw the lowest levels of trust when it came to full self-driving features. 31% of Tesla owners had low to no trust of this feature. I spoke with a handful of Tesla owners who have been using the FSD (Full Self Driving) beta, and they unanimously agreed it is not ready for the market and still needs a lot more work. Tesla is the farthest ahead of any brand regarding full autonomous driving mode. Despite Tesla’s lead, the low level of trust for this feature just demonstrates how far off fully autonomous cars are from reality.

Tesla Critiques
While the overwhelming majority of Tesla owners were quite positive on their Tesla experience, there were a number of critiques and criticisms that came out in both our qualitative interviews with Tesla owners and our quantitative study.

The most common critique was related to some kind of manufacturing defect or issue upon delivery of the vehicle. These issues were generally small and related to fit and finish more than function. But despite the small number of owners we encountered with issues, they still gave their Tesla high delight scores which underscored the transformative experience they had overall was enough to overlook a few defects, which were eventually fixed by Tesla.

Another critique we heard quite often, was from owners who were starting to have some negative sentiment toward the Tesla brand due to Elon Musk’s public actions and antics. The owners we spoke to were clear they still loved their car but were starting to frustrated with Elon Musk as a brand ambassador. Interestingly, product loyalty was one of the areas where Tesla ranked lower than other products/brand we have tested via the Delight Scale. Only 58% of Tesla owners said they were extremely likely to buy another product from Tesla in the future. While only 5% of Tesla owners said they were unlikely to buy another product from Tesla, the 37% who were only moderately to slightly likely to buy a Tesla again in the future is positive for other automotive companies who have a chance to compete for these customers in the future.

With a Delight Score of 965, Tesla ranks amongst the highest products we have benchmarked with the Delight Scale. Similar to what we found with Peloton, the software upgrades which improved the features and functionality of the car over time was a large factor in Tesla’s high score and customer delight. This affirms the pattern we have seen with products that are not stand-alone hardware experiences but include software and/or service components that keep making the product feel fresh and engaging.

The Delight Scale is built on the ten best questions prepared to capture product experience across a series of products from hardware to apps as well as services.  It captures willingness to recommend the product prompted and unprompted, customer satisfaction in relation to expectations, sentiment on price, intention to repurchase, and more. The results are scored, weighted, and aggregated into a product’s Delight Score.

The Delight Scale utilizes questions with a 7-point satisfaction scale that ranges from one extreme attitude to another with one neutral option. The Likert Scale is a popular and well-known question format used to measure opinions and behavior. Likert-type questions provide more granular feedback about a product compared to binary questions with their two answer options.

The maximum Delight Score a product or service can achieve is 1200. In order to achieve such a score, respondents would have to select the top 2 boxes for all the scoring questions. Rather than allocating a score to all possible answers, the Delight Score uses a Top 2 Box score (sometimes called T2B) in the way of summarizing the positive responses from a Likert Scale. The Top 2 Box score technique is used across research to help with ad testing, product development, and brand tracking. This approach has proven to lead to a much more holistic measurement of customer experience, actionable product insights to truly separate great products from average ones. Selecting the top 2 boxes for 60% of the questions would place a product or a service on a Delight Score of around 700.

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