A new U.K. survey says the dealership service department is the main decider of customer satisfaction and dealership loyalty.
A J.D. Power survey finds that among highly satisfied customers – overall satisfaction scores of 900 or higher on a 1,000-point scale – 92% say they definitely will return to the same service facility for future warranty work and 83% say they definitely will return for future paid service.
But Axel Sprenger, senior director-European automotive operations at J.D. Power, says when satisfaction slips into the 800-to-899-point range, intended loyalty drops to 74% for warranty service and 58% for paid service.
“When auto dealerships manage to get the service department’s customer-service equation right, they earn incredibly loyal customers,” Sprenger says in a statement. “The service event is also instrumental in driving sales, as it is likely the most recent experience the customer has had at the dealer prior to shopping for a new vehicle.”
The U.K. study, now in its second year, is based on replies from 8,478 new-vehicle buyers. It measures customer satisfaction with their service experience at a franchised dealer facility for maintenance and repair work. It uses five measures: service quality (26%); service initiation (23%); service advisor (19%); vehicle pick-up (17%); and service facility (16%).
It found 78% of customers who are highly satisfied with their service experience say they definitely will purchase or lease their next new vehicle from the servicing dealership. When service satisfaction drops to 800-899, intended purchase loyalty dips to 44% and tumbles to 23% when satisfaction is between 600 and 799.
J.D. Power says when a service advisor greets customers immediately upon their arrival, it can improve service satisfaction as much as 48 points, but 61% of customers indicate they had to wait for a greeting.
Overall customer satisfaction with dealer service, based solely on the first three years of ownership, averaged 761 in the premium-brand segment in 2016, unchanged from 2015. In the volume-brand segment, the rate rose to 744 from 737 a year earlier.
Mercedes-Benz ranked highest among premium brands with a score of 774, an 18-point improvement from 2015 when it ranked fourth. It was followed by Land Rover (773) and Audi (761).
Toyota ranked highest among volume brands, with a score of 776, up 17 points from 2015. Honda ranked second (775), followed by Kia (765), Mini (757) and Suzuki (753).