Auto Service World
Feature   August 21, 2012   by CARS Magazine

Autopro leads in customer satisfaction: report

NAPA banner ranked highest among major independent chains and OE dealerships in annual J.D. Power & Associates survey.

For the second year in a row, NAPA Autopro ranked highest in customer satisfaction in the annual J.D. Power & Associates Canadian Customer Commitment Index study.

Autopro outranked a field of independent aftermarket and dealer service chains, achieving a customer-satisfaction score 879 out of 1000.

Overall customer satisfaction is determined by examining five key factors of the service experience: service initiation; service advisor; service facility; service quality; and vehicle pick-up. The industry average score was 827.

Rounding out the five highest-ranked brands were Jiffy Lube (857); Mr. Lube (849); Great Canadian Oil Change (848); and Subaru Dealerships (847).

The 2012 Canadian Customer Commitment Index Study is based on responses from more than 18,000 owners in Canada whose vehicles are between four and 12 years old. The study was fielded in January and February 2012 and in June and July 2012.

According to J.D. Power & Associates, the survey also shed some interesting light on how service experience at dealerships affect Canadian consumer attitudes toward buying new cars.

The auto analysts conclude that Canadians who are highly satisfied with the service experience at their auto dealer are more likely to repurchase the same make of vehicle.

“In an ongoing battle for automotive customer loyalty, automakers may help build customer repurchase intent by offering a highly satisfying service experience,” a press release from J.D. Power and Associates states.

The conclusion follows from statistics indicating that 42 per cent of customers who rate their dealer service experience 10 (on a 10-point scale) indicate they “definitely will” purchase the same make the next time they shop for a new vehicle. In contrast, only seven per cent of customers who rate their service experience between one and five say they “definitely will” purchase the same make.

“The dealership service staff essentially acts as a second salesperson to the customer after they have purchased the vehicle,” said Ryan Robinson, director of the Canadian automotive practice at J.D. Power and Associates. “The interactions they have with customers after the sale is critical to ensuring that customers not only purchase the same make of vehicle in the future, but also do so at the same dealership. The link between service satisfaction and future vehicle purchase intent is a critical one.”

The study also found that customers prefer to be communicated with via the same communication channel they use to schedule service appointments, indicating a comfort level with that channel. Among customers who schedule a service appointment via telephone, 54 per cent prefer to be contacted in the future by telephone, compared with email (32 per cent) and traditional mail (10 per cent). Similarly, among customers scheduling service appointments via the Internet, 66 per cent prefer to be contacted by email, compared with phone (22 per cent), traditional mail (3 per cent) or text message (8 per cent).

“Knowing how a customer contacts a dealership is just as important as the communication itself,” said Robinson. “The study shows that customers prefer to be contacted in the way that they schedule appointments. The additional effort that service staff put into the method of communication provides an opportunity to set the tone for the upcoming service interaction.”

The company also concludes that while dealership service departments are proficient in more areas than are specialty shops (such as facilities dedicated to oil changes), customer satisfaction with an oil change at a dealer service centre is 28 points lower (823 on the 1,000-point scale) than at a quick lube facility (851).

“Specialty shops can focus on a particular service and optimize the processes to make it as painless and quick as possible for customers,” said Robinson. “In contrast, dealerships need to be prepared to handle any type of vehicle repair, making it more difficult to streamline any one service and provide a quick in-and-out appointment for most customers. However, dealerships should improve satisfaction within the most common activities first and expand to others.”

Headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is a global marketing information services company providing performance improvement, social media and customer satisfaction insights and solutions.