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Lexus and GMC are Top-Ranked Brands for Customer Satisfaction with Dealer Service

3/14/2013
According to the J.D. Power and Associates 2013 Customer Service Index (CSI) Study,SM Lexus ranks highest among luxury nameplates for a fifth consecutive year, and GMC ranks highest among mass-market nameplates. Among luxury brands, Cadillac, Jaguar, Acura, and Infiniti follow Lexus in the rankings. Among mass market brands, Mini, Buick, Chevrolet, and Volkswagen follow GMC.

The CSI Study measures customer satisfaction among vehicle owners who visit a dealership service department for maintenance or repair work during the first 3 years of ownership. Satisfaction is examined across five measures, listed in order of importance: service quality; service initiation; service advisor; service facility; and vehicle pick-up. Survey responses received from 91,000 owners and lessees of 2008 to 2012 model-year vehicles were included in the study.

The 2013 CSI Study finds that manufacturer and dealer investments in improving the customer service experience are producing more highly satisfied and loyal service customers. "Dealers have made significant investments in key customer touch points--people, improved processes, and customer waiting areas--which are having a profoundly positive impact on their customers," said Chris Sutton, senior director at J.D. Power and Associates. "Dealerships are placing more emphasis on the service advisor's role, which is essential to effectively handling service customers."

In the 2013 CSI Study, customer satisfaction with service at a dealership increases 10 points to 797 (on a 1,000-point scale) from 787 in 2012. Moreover, dealer service facilities have expanded their lead in overall satisfaction, compared with independent service facilities, by 6 points, to a 44-point gap, despite service customers spending an average of $44 at independent facilities, compared with $118 at dealer service facilities.

According to the study, 77% of customer visits to dealer service departments during the first 3 years of ownership are for vehicle maintenance, an increase from 72% last year and 63% in 2011. This shift in the proportion of maintenance work to repair work is one of the contributing factors to the increase in overall satisfaction.

"The service mix continues to shift to maintenance and away from repairs, which is a testament to the improvement in vehicle quality and dependability," said Sutton. "Owner satisfaction is generally higher for maintenance than for repairs for several reasons, primarily because maintenance tends to be less expensive and time-consuming and can be scheduled and completed at the owner's convenience."

Analysis from the CSI Study shows that there is a direct correlation between service satisfaction and loyalty, with 79% of vehicle owners indicating that they "definitely will" return to their dealership for maintenance and repairs during the vehicle's warranty period. However, loyalty decreases after the vehicle warranty expires, with 64% of vehicle owners indicating they "definitely will" bring their vehicle back to the dealership for maintenance and repairs after the warranty expires.

Among vehicle owners who say they are "delighted" (satisfaction score of 901 or better) with their dealer service experience, loyalty rates increase substantially, and 59% of "delighted" owners also say they will purchase or lease their next vehicle from the same brand.

"The service experience has a profound impact on vehicle owners, not just on where they take their vehicle the next time they need maintenance or repairs, but also on their next vehicle purchase," said Sutton. "Dealers know this, and most are taking the appropriate steps to ensure their customers have the best experience possible."

To improve satisfaction with dealer service, J.D. Power recommends that, whenever possible, vehicle owners schedule their dealer service appointment in advance. If the vehicle must remain at the dealership for maintenance or repair, owners should ask the service advisor for a loaner vehicle. Many dealerships offer such vehicles for use by service customers, so do not be afraid to ask.

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