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2009 Customer Service Index Study

2009 Customer Service Index Study

By Jeff Youngs, December 31, 2008

Getting your new car serviced at the dealership, whether it be for warranty repairs or regularly scheduled maintenance, is an often-overlooked part of the new-car ownership experience. A positive dealer service experience can greatly affect overall customer satisfaction and, from the dealer's perspective, increase the likelihood that you'll buy another vehicle from them. And as new-vehicle sales continue to sputter and new customers are becoming increasingly harder for dealers to find, retaining existing customers becomes even more critical.

Recently, J.D. Power and Associates surveyed verified owners of three-to five-year-old vehicles to measure their satisfaction with dealer service. As part of the 2009 Customer Service Index (CSI) Study,consumers were asked to rate their dealer's service department in five areas:
  • Service quality
  • Service initiation
  • Service advisor
  • Service facility
  • Vehicle pickup

The findings showed that although satisfaction with dealer service tends to decline as vehicles age-particularly during the fourth and fifth years of ownership-those brands whose dealers provide the highest levels of customer satisfaction with service during the warranty period retain a greater share of actual service visits at the dealership, even after the warranty period expires.

Other highlights of the study include:
  • Overall customer satisfaction with dealer service is up only slightly compared to last year, with premium brands making the largest satisfaction and ranking improvements.
  • The ability to accommodate walk-ins, provide loaner cars and have a dedicated service greeter all contributed to the premium brands' higher index scores.
  • Vehicle retention is one of the focal points this year, as owners are keeping their vehicles longer. This longer retention period makes the dealer focus on service and keeping existing customers even more important.
  • Brands with dealers that achieve particularly high CSI scores-averaging above 800 (on a 1,000-point scale)-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 whose dealerships attained CSI scores averaging 800 or lower retained only 69 percent of customer maintenance and repair dollars.
  • With an index score of 835, Lexusranks highest among all new-vehicle brands, improving upon its No. 4 ranking last year, and regaining the top ranking for the first time since 2006.
  • Jaguar (810) ranks No. 2 after ranking highest in 2008 and 2007. BMW (808)ranks No. 3, improving 6 rank positions from last year. Cadillac (806)and Acura (805) round out the top five.
  • Buick, at No. 8, is the highest-ranked non-premium brand in the study, and is one of only two non-premium brands ranked among the top10 (Saturn ranked No. 9).
  • The 2009 CSI Study is based on responses from 106,059 owners endlessness of 2004 to 2008 model-year vehicles.

For more information:

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