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2014 U.S. Customer Service Index (CSI) Study Results

By: Jeff Youngs, 4/9/2014
The percentage of vehicle owners who have complimentary or prepaid vehicle maintenance packages has more than doubled during the past five years, according to the just-published J.D. Power 2014 U.S. Customer Service Index (CSI) Study.SM The study measures customer satisfaction with maintenance and repair work at franchised dealer facilities, among owners and lessees of one- to five-year-old vehicles.

A key finding of the study is that overall customer satisfaction with dealer service continues to increase. Among luxury brands, overall customer satisfaction with service at a dealer facility averages 855 on a 1,000-point scale, up from 846 in 2013. Satisfaction among owners of mass-market brands is 797, up from 789 in 2013. Six of the top 10 key performance indicators for CSI involve service advisor-related best practices, including being focused on customer needs; providing helpful advice; and keeping the owner updated about the status of their vehicle.

Seventeen percent of vehicle owners use ratings and review websites to select a dealer for service, the study shows, and 15% use social networking sites for that purpose. Owners of traditional domestic U.S.-brand vehicles use social networking sites at a much higher rate to help select a dealer, while owners of non-U.S.-based brands use ratings and review sites at much higher rates.

When the customer uses a digital tablet during service interactions, the industry-wide service satisfaction score rises to 838, compared with 802 when a tablet is not used. Service advisors in the luxury vehicle segment are more likely to use tablets than advisors in the mass market segment (19% of the time vs. 15%, respectively).

GM Brands Top Industry Rankings
Two General Motors brands perform highest in the segment rankings in 2014. Cadillac ranks highest in satisfaction with dealer service among luxury brands, achieving an overall score of 872, an increase of 14 points from 2013. Rounding out the five highest-performing nameplates in the luxury segment are Audi (868), Lexus (867), and Infiniti and Lincoln (865 in a tie).

Buick ranks highest among mass market brands, with an overall score of 835--a 26-point improvement from 2013. Following Buick in the mass market rankings are Volkswagen (830), GMC and Mini (828 in a tie), and Chevrolet (812).

According to the study, 68% of luxury vehicle owners and 46% of mass market brand owners indicate their vehicle was covered under either a complimentary or prepaid maintenance package during the first year of ownership, compared with 35% of luxury and 15% of mass market brand owners in 2009. The study finds that these packages help drive higher repurchase rates among owners, as 72% of customers who have a complimentary or prepaid maintenance package plan to buy the same vehicle make on their next purchase, compared with 62% who did not have a maintenance package but plan to repurchase the same make.

"Maintenance packages--whether they're complimentary or paid for by owners--create a long-term relationship between the customer and dealership, which, when coupled with satisfying service experiences during that period, can have a very positive impact on loyalty rates," said Chris Sutton, senior director of the U.S. Automotive Retail Practice at J.D. Power. "Maintenance packages help capture a higher percentage of service visits, and since customers with these plans are predisposed to purchase such items as batteries, brakes, and tires from the dealer even after their plan expires, dealers retain key revenue opportunities for service and repairs."

Consumer Tips
Based on the study, J.D. Power offers the following consumer tips:
  • If your dealer doesn't offer a complimentary or prepaid maintenance package as part of your purchase agreement, ask for it and use it as a bargaining chip.
  • Before you begin the purchasing process, check on the Web and among various regional dealers to see what kinds of maintenance packages are being offered.
  • Consider the reputation of a dealership's service department when making a purchase, particularly if you're deciding among several makes from two or more dealerships.

About the Study
The 2014 U.S. CSI Study is based on responses from more than 90,000 owners and lessees of 2009 to 2013 model-year vehicles. The study was fielded between October and December 2013.

Additional Research:

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