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2017 U.S. Customer Service Index (CSI) Study: Automotive Service Quality Rises Along with Overall Customer Satisfaction

2017 U.S. Customer Service Index (CSI) Study: Automotive Service Quality Rises Along with Overall Customer Satisfaction

By Joseph Dobrian, March 16, 2017

Automotive service customers are enjoying increased satisfaction with the quality of vehicle service, according to the J.D. Power 2017 U.S. Customer Service Index (CSI) Study.SM This includes higher satisfaction scores with regard to Service Advisors, Service Initiation, Service Facilities, Vehicle Pick-up, and Service Quality—the five measures that comprise the study.

The Service Quality score improves the most, rising to 809 (on a 1,000-point scale) from 782 in 2015, when the study was redesigned. The other four measures also show improvement from 2015 levels. The overall customer service score in 2016 is 816, up from 802 in 2015.

The study measures customer satisfaction with automotive service at a franchised dealer or independent service facility for maintenance or repair work among owners and lessees of 1- to 5-year-old vehicles.

“The quality of work—doing the job right the first time—can noticeably affect customer satisfaction and loyalty, but it shouldn’t be viewed in a vacuum,” said Chris Sutton, vice president, U.S. automotive retail practice at J.D. Power. “Proactive communication with the customer, especially while the car is being serviced, is one element that has a direct influence on loyalty.”

Among the study’s key findings is that text messages may be a more effective way of keeping in touch with customers. According to the study, 55% of customers whose service providers contact them by phone say they “definitely will” return for paid service. Among those who receive text message updates, 67% “definitely will” return. Among Gen Y customers (those born 1977-1994), 41% cite a preference for text messaging, as do 25% of Gen X customers (born 1965-1976), 25% of Boomers (born 1946-1964), and 10% of Pre-Boomers (born 1945 or earlier). These numbers represent increases of between 3% and 6% in all generational categories since 2015.

“It’s not surprising to see the preference for receiving updates through text messages continue to rise, but only 3% of customers indicate they receive text message updates,” Sutton said. “Correcting that disconnect by adding more text message capability should be a priority with a service operation.”

Other Key Findings

  • The quality of the service advisor (835) shows the highest level of satisfaction, followed by service initiation (832), vehicle pick-up (810), service quality (809), and service facility (794).
  • Increases in the use of tablets by service advisors and online scheduling tend to increase customer satisfaction. Tablet usage increases to 24%, from 17% in 2015. Online scheduling increases to 13% from 9% during the same period.
  • Dealers receive higher ratings than non-dealers in customer satisfaction in 15 of 16 attributes. The most noticeable advantages lie in amenities offered, comfort of waiting area, and cleanliness of dealership. Non-dealers rate higher than dealers in time required to complete vehicle service—but only by 0.06 points on a 10-point scale.
  • Only slightly more than one customer in 20 (6%) say that the dealer didn’t fix their vehicle right the first time. However, among that percentage, satisfaction drops to 639, compared with 823 among those whose work was completed right the first time.
  • Radios seem to present the most troublesome servicing problems. It is unclear whether the issue is vehicle- or service-related, but only 80% of customers who sought service for a radio reception problem indicate the dealer was able to fix it right the first time.

Lexus, Buick Rank Highest in Customer Satisfaction in Respective Segments
Lexus ranks highest in satisfaction with dealer service among luxury brands, with a score of 874. Following in the luxury rankings are Audi (869), Lincoln (868), Porsche (867), and Cadillac (865). Buick ranks highest in satisfaction with dealer service among mass market brands, with a score of 860, followed by Mini (850), GMC (837), Chevrolet (829), and Nissan (822).

Consumer Tips
Based on the study, J.D. Power offers the following consumer tips:

  • Consider the quality and reputation of the dealership, as well as the make of car you buy.
  • Check various consumer publications, online and elsewhere, to see if certain vehicles tend to have certain problems.
  • Ask friends and family to steer you to the most reliable automotive service providers, whether dealers or non-dealers.

About the Study
The 2017 U.S. CSI Study is based on responses from more than 70,000 owners and lessees of 2012 to 2016 model-year vehicles. The study was fielded between October and December 2016.

Additional Research:

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