Although more than three-fourths of vehicle owners report making an appointment with their dealership for a repair or maintenance, customers who drop in without a scheduled appointment are more satisfied, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2007 Customer Service Index (CSI) Study released today. The study, now in its 27th year, measures the customer satisfaction of vehicle owners who visit the dealer service department for maintenance or repair work during the first three years of ownership, which typically represent the majority of the vehicle warranty period. Overall customer satisfaction with dealer service is based on six measures: service initiation, service advisor, in-dealership experience, service delivery, service quality and user-friendly service. The study finds that owners who drop in for service without making an appointment provide satisfaction scores averaging 882 on a 1,000-point scale, compared with 874 among those who make an appointment. “Customers who plan ahead and make appointments to have their vehicles serviced expect that the dealership will prioritize their vehicles,” said Tom Gauer, senior director of automotive retail research at J.D. Power and Associates. “However, when customers with appointments see that drop-in customers are receiving the same attention and priority, their satisfaction drops. “Conversely, drop-in customers are usually quite happy when a dealership accepts their vehicle for repair, since they expect that they could be turned away. “Dealerships can seize this opportunity for improvement by continuing to delight drop-in customers, but also by paying special attention to customers with appointments, and greeting them promptly so that those customers know that their appointment time has been reserved especially for their vehicles.” The study also finds that, indicative of the automotive industry’s continuing product quality improvements, more customers visit dealerships for maintenance rather than repairs. The percentage of maintenance visits increased by four points to 62 percent, with 38 percent of visits being for repairs. The study also finds that personal interaction with customers by service staff can go a long way in impacting customer satisfaction with dealer service. For example, among customers whose auto repairs and maintenance were not completed correctly the first time, proactive communication by the service staff helped to mitigate the decrease in satisfaction. Of these customers, those who report they were “delighted” by how well their repair or maintenance work was explained to them averaged a satisfaction index score of 890-14 points higher than the industry average-compared with 733 from those who said that they were “satisfied” or “indifferent.” The 2007 CSI Study is based on responses gathered between January and April 2007 from 84,495 owners and lessees of 2004 to 2006 model-year vehicles.