According to the J.D. Power and Associates 2009 Customer Service Index (CSI), which was released Feb. 25, automotive companies that provide consumers with superior service experiences translates into increased profitability for dealers and automakers, with the highest-performing brands retaining more than 80 percent of their customer maintenance and repair dollars within their dealer network, compared with retention rates of less than 60 percent for lower-performing brands.
The study, now in its 29th year, examines satisfaction among vehicle owners who visit a service department for maintenance or repair work. The CSI rankings are based on dealer performance during the first three years of ownership, which typically represent the majority of the vehicle warranty period. Five measures are examined to determine overall customer satisfaction with dealer service (listed in order of importance): service quality; service initiation; service advisor; service facility; and vehicle pickup.
The study finds that although satisfaction with dealer service tends to decline as vehicles age--particularly during the fourth and fifth years of ownership--those automakers whose dealers provide the highest levels of satisfaction during the warranty period retain a greater share of future service visits at the dealership, even after the warranty period expires. Brands with dealers that achieve particularly high CSI scores (800 or higher) during the first three years of vehicle ownership retained 79 percent of dollars spent on maintenance and repairs during the first five years of ownership. In contrast, brands that attained CSI scores below 800 retained only 69 percent of customer maintenance and repair dollars.
Lexus ranks highest in customer satisfaction with dealer service in 2009-improving from fourth rank position in 2008. Lexus achieves an overall CSI score of 835 on a 1,000-point scale and performs particularly well in four of the five measures: service quality; service initiation; service advisor and service facility. Rounding out the top five nameplates are Jaguar (810), BMW (808), Cadillac (806) and Acura (805).
The 2009 CSI Study is based on responses from 106,059 owners and lessees of 2004 to 2008 model-year vehicles. The study was fielded between October and December 2008. J.D. Power and Associates measures dealer service in various countries around the world, including Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Africa, Taiwan, Thailand and the UK.