2012 Customer Service Index (CSI) Study Results
By Jeff Youngs, March 14, 2012
New-vehicle dealers in the U.S. are not only reaping the benefits of renewed consumer confidence amid a recovering economy on the showroom floor. They're also gaining traction in another area of their business: the service department. According to the recent J.D. Power and Associates 2012 U.S. Customer Service Index (CSI) StudySM, vehicle owners who visit dealer facilities for service are considerably more satisfied with their experience than with service from independent facilities.
The study examines satisfaction among more than 84,000 verified owners of one-to three-year-old (2009 to 2011 model year) vehicles who visited a dealer service department for maintenance or repair work. Consumers were asked to rate their dealer's service department in five areas: service quality; service initiation; service advisor; service facility; and vehicle pick-up.
Among customers of dealer facilities, overall satisfaction with the service experience averages 38 points higher on a 1,000-point scale, compared with non-dealer facilities (787 vs. 749, respectively). In addition, 79 percent of all service visits among owners of one-to-three-year-old vehicles are performed at dealer facilities--up from 74 percent in 2011 and 72 percent in 2010.
"Steady improvements in vehicle quality, longer intervals between recommended service visits and fewer units in operation have had a positive effect on overall dealer service satisfaction," according to J.D. Power and Associates.
Other highlights of the 2012 CSI Study include:
• Both market share and overall satisfaction have improved considerably among dealer service centers from 2011. Overall satisfaction with dealer service improves by 19 points in 2012, compared with 2011, with gains in all five study factors.
• In all, 28 of 33 automotive brands improve in service satisfaction from 2011, with eight brands improving by at least 20 index points.
• Contributing to the overall improvement is a shift in the proportion of maintenance and repair work performed at dealer service centers. In 2012, 72 percent of vehicle owners indicate their latest dealer service visit was for maintenance rather than repair, an increase from 63 percent in 2011.
• Customer satisfaction with maintenance visits is typically higher than satisfaction with repair visits, since visits for routine maintenance tend to be less expensive and less time-consuming.
• Lexus ranks highest in customer satisfaction with dealer service among luxury brands and receives an award for a fourth consecutive year. Lexus achieves an overall CSI score of 861 and performs particularly well in three of the five measures: service initiation, facility and service quality.
• Rounding out the top five nameplates in the luxury segment are Cadillac (852); Jaguar (849); Acura (838); and Porsche (836). Among luxury brands, Audi achieves the greatest improvement from 2011.
• Among mass market brands, Mini ranks highest for a second consecutive year with a score of 809. Mini performs particularly well in four of the five factors: service quality, service initiation, service advisor and service facility.
• Also among the top five brands in the mass market segment are Buick (805); GMC (803); Chevrolet (801); and Hyundai (791).
• Of mass market brands, Nissan and Toyota achieve the greatest improvements from 2011.
J.D. Power and Associates offers the following tips for consumers regarding vehicle service:
• Improvements in vehicle quality, further adoption of oil life monitors, synthetic blend motor oils, and extended service intervals have reduced the need and frequency for vehicle maintenance and repair visits. In fact, many vehicles no longer require that the oil be changed "every 3 months or 3,000 miles." In fact, some vehicles can be driven 7,500 miles or more before requiring service.
• Schedule your service appointment online. Customers scheduling an appointment over the Internet report a higher level of satisfaction across all Index measures compared with those who called for an appointment or who drop by the dealership without making an appointment.
• Be sure to compare prices at both dealerships and independent repair facilities for all types of maintenance and repair services. Don't assume that dealership prices are higher.
• Ask for a vehicle inspection report, and review it with your service advisor. Owners who say that the inspection report was reviewed with them by their service advisor experience significantly higher levels of satisfaction than those who did not. Also, customers who review the inspection report with their service advisor are more likely to say that their vehicle was fixed right the first time.
• When shopping for your next new vehicle, be sure to consider any manufacturer-sponsored maintenance programs, which can potentially save you time and money. For instance, several manufacturer programs offer courtesy loaner vehicles to minimize the inconvenience of a service or repair visit.
About the Study
The 2012 U.S. CSI Study is based on responses from more than 84,000 owners and lessees of 2007 to 2011 model-year vehicles. The study was fielded between October and December 2011.