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2013 China Sales Satisfaction Index Study Results

2013 China Sales Satisfaction Index Study Results

By Jeff Youngs, July 01, 2013
With sales of new vehicles rising in China, and competition among brands increasing alongside sales growth, dealership personnel in the quickly emerging Chinese new-car market are learning that it is imperative to deliver an outstanding customer experience during the sales process. A satisfactory sales experience helps to drive customer satisfaction with the vehicle as well, since the 10 highest-performing brands in sales satisfaction across both luxury and mass market brands account for 40% of auto sales in China, according to the recently released J.D. Power Asia Pacific 2013 China Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) Study.SM

Now in its 14th year, the study measures customer satisfaction with the new-vehicle purchase experience by examining five factors (in order of importance): delivery process; sales initiation; deal; dealership facility; and salesperson. The study is based on survey responses of new-vehicle owners during the first 2 to 6 months of ownership.

The 2013 study includes information not offered in previous versions of the study. For example, in the 2013 study, J.D. Power separates rankings into the two segments--luxury brands and mass market brands--to address the differences in customer expectations.

Overall customer satisfaction with the new-vehicle sales experience is 649 points (on a 1,000-point scale), according to the 2013 study. Satisfaction in the luxury segment averages 665, and 647 in the mass market segment. Among the six luxury brands included in the study, Audi scores highest in sales satisfaction, at 721. Dongfeng Nissan ranks highest in overall satisfaction among the 47 mass market brands 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).

Personal Attention, Follow-up Keys to China Auto Sales Satisfaction
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 both have a significant impact on customers' 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.

According to LMC Automotive, passenger-vehicle sales volume in China reached 6.67 million units in the first 5 months of 2013. 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.

"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.

In the 2013 study, approximately 40% of customers indicate they don't know what model they're going to buy before visiting a dealership. According to Zhou, dealers may be able to improve their close rate by identifying the customer's needs and explaining the vehicle's features in a compelling manner.

Korean Brands Outperforming Chinese Domestic, U.S. Counterparts
In general, Korean automakers achieve the highest level of satisfaction with the sales experience with a score of 708, which is 59 points higher than industry average. Korean brands also rank highest in all five study 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. U.S. brands also trail the study's mean score, averaging 638 points in sales satisfaction.

Based on the findings of the study, J.D. Power offers the following consumer tips for a satisfying new-car sales experience:
  • Ask knowledgeable acquaintances to recommend a dealership where the salespeople are known for being knowledgeable, helpful, and honest.
  • Visit auto manufacturers' websites to research their products before visiting a dealership. This will make the shopping and sales process faster and more efficient. As you look at different models and features, develop a list of characteristics you want your new vehicle to have--in terms of appearance, performance, options, and fuel efficiency.
  • Pay attention to the brand's and the dealer's warranties and service agreements. In addition to getting the vehicle you want, you should also get the level of service you want.
  • Develop a list of questions you'll want to ask the salesperson prior to visiting the dealer showroom. Also, make the salesperson aware of your needs and priorities.

About the Study
The 2013 China 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.

Additional Research:

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