Shanghai: 28 June 2013 — Delivering an outstanding customer experience in the sales process helps automakers and dealers improve their close rates and drives sales performance, with the 10 highest-performing brands in sales satisfaction across both luxury and mass market brands holding an approximately 40 percent share of China retail auto sales, according to the J.D. Power Asia Pacific 2013 China Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) StudySM released today.
Now in its 14th year, the study measures customer satisfaction with the new-vehicle purchase experience in five factors (in the order of importance): delivery process; sales initiation; deal; dealership facility; salesperson. The study is based on survey responses of new-vehicle owners during the first 2 to 6 months of ownership. The SSI Study has been redesigned in 2013 to focus on providing more actionable insights for the automotive industry1.
In addition, 2013 also marks the first year J.D. Power separates rankings into the two segments—luxury brands and mass market brands—to address the differences in terms of customer expectations.
Overall satisfaction is 649 points (on a 1,000-point scale) in 2013. Satisfaction in the luxury segment averages 665 points and 647 points in the mass market segment.
Among the six luxury brands2 included in the study, Audi scores highest in sales satisfaction at 721 and performs well in all five factors.
Dongfeng Nissan ranks highest in overall satisfaction among the 47 mass market brands3 included in the study, with a score of 732. Following Dongfeng Nissan in the rankings are Beijing Hyundai (715) and Dongfeng Citroën and Dongfeng Yueda Kia in a tie (703 each).
Among all brands of origin, Korean automakers achieve the highest satisfaction score at 708, which is 59 points higher than industry average. Korean brands also rank highest in all five factors.
Chinese domestic brands lag behind in sales satisfaction with an average score of 599. The gap in SSI satisfaction scores between domestic and international brands has widened to 70 points in 2013. The largest gaps between domestic and international brands are in sales initiation and dealership facility. European and Japanese brands follow with 671 and 669 points, respectively. U.S. brands trail with an average of 638 points in sales satisfaction.
According to LMC Automotive, passenger vehicle sales volume in China reached 6.67 million units in the first five months of 2013. However, competition is increasing in tandem with the market growth. The number of models in the China automotive market is expected to reach 524, approximately 1.8 times that in the U.S. market in 2013. The importance of ensuring customers are satisfied with their purchase experience becomes even greater as automakers and dealers strive to not just close deals, but to also retain customers.
“It is crucial to use the shopping experience as a key point of differentiation in such a highly competitive marketplace, to ensure customers see value beyond price, and to develop a strong relationship for word of mouth and service usage,” said Dr. Mei Songlin, vice president and managing director at J.D. Power Asia Pacific, Shanghai.
Brands with high SSI scores also lead the industry in terms of sales rate per year and overall sales volume. Makes with high satisfaction (666 points and above) show an average sales of 1,380 units per dealer in 2012, compared with 1,092 units sold by makes with low SSI satisfaction (612 points and below). Among the 53 brands4 included in the 2013 study, the 10 highest-performing brands in sales satisfaction command a share of approximately 40 percent in sales volume5.
High sales satisfaction scores have a significant impact not only on repurchase rates of the same brand, but also on customer loyalty toward dealer services. Among owners of makes achieving high SSI scores, 14 percent have purchased the same make, double the ratio of repurchase among those who own makes with low sales satisfaction (7%). More than one-half of owners of makes (52%) in the high satisfaction category indicate they would recommend their dealer. This drops to 21 percent among owners of makes in the low satisfaction category.
The study shows that dealers may improve sales satisfaction by identifying and meeting individual customer needs. Among the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) measured in the study, being accompanied throughout the dealer visit and being contacted after the sale to make sure the purchase experience was satisfactory each have a significant impact on a customer’s overall perception of their experience.
“Dealers may be able to deliver a better experience when they focus more on communicating one-on-one with customers to understand their individual needs and preferences and create an emotional bond with them at different touch points,” said Tony Zhou, director of automotive research at J.D. Power Asia Pacific, Shanghai.
In the 2013 study, approximately 40 percent of customers indicate they don’t know what model to buy before visiting the dealership. According to Zhou, dealers may be able to improve their close rate by influencing the decisions of these vehicle shoppers by identifying their needs and explaining the vehicle’s features in a compelling manner.
The 2013 China Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) Study is based on survey responses from 14,462 vehicle owners who purchased a new vehicle between July 2012 and February 2013. The study was fielded from January through April 2013 in 46 major cities in China.
The China Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) Study is one of eight consumer-based benchmark studies conducted by J.D. Power Asia Pacific in China. Other 2013 studies conducted by J.D. Power Asia Pacific include:
- The China Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) Study, which examines satisfaction with the after-sales service experience among vehicle owners between 12 and 24 months of ownership, will be released in late July.
- The China New-Vehicle Intender Study (NVIS), which examines customers’ pre-purchase perceptions and considerations, will be released in late August.
- The China Original Equipment Tire Satisfaction Index (OE-TSI) Study, which measures customer satisfaction with original equipment tires, will be released in August.
- The China Manufacturer Website Evaluation Study (MWES), which measures the effectiveness of OEM websites on the basis of the Voice of the Customer, will be released in late September.
- The China Initial Quality Study (IQS), which measures problems experienced by new-vehicle owners during the first two to six months of ownership, will be released in October.
- The China Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study, which measures what excites and delights owners about their new vehicle’s performance and design during the first two to six months of ownership, will be released in November.
- The China Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS), which evaluates overall vehicle dependability during the first 25-36 months of ownership, will be published in December.
1. Note: Due to the study redesign, the SSI index scores for the 2013 study cannot be compared with index scores from previous years.
2. Note: There are six luxury brands with sufficient samples included in the study.
3. Note: There are 47 mass market brands with sufficient samples included in the study.
4. Note: There are 53 brands with sufficient samples included in the study. The study examines 72 brands in total.
5. Source: J.D. Power 2013 China Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) StudySM and LMC Automotive.