SHANGHAI: 30 July 2012 — After six consecutive years of steady increases, overall customer satisfaction with after-sales service with authorized dealers in China has plateaued in 2012, according to the J.D. Power Asia Pacific 2012 China Customer Service Index (CSI) StudySM.
The China Customer Service Index Study, now in its 12th year in China, measures satisfaction among vehicle owners who visit an authorized dealer's service department for maintenance or repair work between 12 and 24 months of ownership, which typically represents a substantial portion of the vehicle warranty period. The study examines five measures to determine overall satisfaction with dealer service. These include: service quality; vehicle pick-up; service initiation; service advisor; and service facility.
Overall customer satisfaction with dealer service in China declined to 832 points on a 1,000-point scale in 2012, from 833 points in 2011. After years of posting substantial annual gains, this year's result marks the industry's first decline in satisfaction since 2006.
Based on J.D. Power's analysis, this slight decline is likely a result of the industry's inability to keep pace with China's explosive vehicle sales pace in recent years, which saw nearly 40 million new passenger vehicles added to China's roads in just the last four years.
As China's passenger vehicle sales increase, the total number of vehicles on the road may be increasing faster than the industry's capacity to add qualified dealers to service these vehicles at levels that consumers have come to expect. This market dynamic has led to lower levels of customer satisfaction with service advisors, and service facilities, in particular.
To keep pace with growing consumer demand for passenger vehicles over the past few years automakers in China have aggressively expanded their dealer networks. In 2011, the number of authorized dealers increased by 14 percent compared to 2010, according to J.D. Power's China Dealer Attitude Study.
Moreover, despite the addition of new dealerships, the volume of customers received by each service advisor on average has increased by 10 percent, thus putting greater strain on the ability of dealers to provide a timely and customer-focused service experience.
"Our research has shown that customer satisfaction with the dealership has a significant impact on owner loyalty and brand advocacy," said Justin Min, senior automotive analyst for J.D. Power Asia Pacific Shanghai.
On average, service volume with dealers in the high satisfaction tier is 40 percent higher than among dealers in the average satisfaction tier. Among customers of dealers in the high satisfaction tier (854 points and higher), more than 72 percent indicate they "definitely would" stay with their current service dealer for warranty service, while 47 percent indicate they "definitely would" use the dealer for post-warranty service, and these patterns are similar for repurchase behavior and advocacy. Among customers in the low satisfaction tier (793 points or less), the percentage of those who state they "definitely would" revisit the service dealer for warranty service drops to 51 percent and post-warranty service usage drops to 24 percent.
"Providing high levels of customer service among an increasing number of new dealerships with higher sales volumes is clearly a challenge," said Min. "Those brands that can successfully manage this expansion will be better positioned for growth as the industry evolves".
Dealers of Japanese brands rank among the top three rank positions in customer satisfaction with the after-sales service experience. Guangqi Honda ranks highest overall with a score of 905, and performs particularly well in three of five measures in the study: service initiation, service advisor and service facility. Dongfeng Honda and GAC Toyota rank second in a tie with 887 points, followed by Dongfeng Citroen (885), and Dongfeng Peugeot (881).
After-sales service satisfaction with authorized dealers of international brands (brands with headquarters located outside of China) decreased by one point in 2012, while satisfaction with dealers of Chinese domestic brands decreased by nine points. The gap in satisfaction scores between international and domestic brands widened to 73 points from 65 points in 2011.
"With the growth of new vehicle sales slowing down, after-sales service has become an increasingly important profit source for dealers," said Dr. Mei Songlin, vice president and managing director of J.D. Power China Operations. "Profit margins from new-vehicle sales have decreased in recent years. As a result, after-sales service is becoming one of the backbones for dealers to sustain growth amid fierce competition."
After-sales service currently accounts for 44 percent of dealer profit, according to the 2012 J.D. Power China Dealer Attitude Study. According to J.D. Power, the percentage is expected to continue to increase as new-vehicle prices decline and profit shrinks.
"Thus, the importance of dealership service satisfaction is paramount for the health of the dealer body and by extension, automakers," said Dr. Mei.
The 2012 China Customer Service Index (CSI) Study is based on street intercept and face-to-face interviews with 14,657 new-vehicle owners who purchased their vehicle between February 2010 and May 2011, and examines 68 passenger vehicle brands. The study was fielded between February and May 2012 in 37 major cities in China.
The Customer Satisfaction Index study is one of eight consumer-based benchmark studies conducted by J.D. Power Asia Pacific in China. Other 2012 studies conducted by J.D. Power Asia Pacific in the country include:
- China New-Vehicle Intender Study (NVIS), which examines pre-purchase perceptions and considerations, was released in end June.
- The China Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) Study, which measures satisfaction with the new-vehicle sales process, will be released in mid August.
- The China Original Equipment Tire Satisfaction Study, which measures customer satisfaction on original equipment tires, will be released in 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 late 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 late November.
- The China Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS), which evaluates overall vehicle dependability during the first 25-36 months of ownership, will be published in mid December.
- China Service Loyalty Study (SLS), which measures customer loyalty toward authorized dealerships during the first 25 to 36 months of ownership. The study will be released in January 2013.
About J.D. Power Asia Pacific J.D. Power Asia Pacific has offices in Tokyo, Singapore, Beijing, Shanghai and Bangkok that conduct customer satisfaction research and provide consulting services in the automotive, information technology and finance industries. Together, the five offices bring the language of customer satisfaction to consumers and businesses in China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand. Information regarding J.D. Power Asia Pacific and its products can be accessed through the Internet at www.jdpower.com. Media e-mail contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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