SINGAPORE: 22 October 2012 — Dealers are having to work harder to please the growing proportion of first-time buyers entering the new-vehicle market according to the J.D. Power Asia Pacific 2012 Vietnam Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) StudySM released today.
Now in its fourth year, the study examines seven factors that contribute to overall customer satisfaction with the purchase experience. In order of importance, they are: delivery process; delivery timing; sales initiation; paperwork; salesperson; dealer facility; and deal. SSI performance is reported as an index score based on a 1,000-point scale, where a higher overall SSI score indicates greater satisfaction with the new-vehicle sales and delivery process. Overall sales satisfaction averages 846 in 2012--a 15-point drop from 2011.
The study finds that the number of first-time buyers has increased by 14 percent in 2012. Overall satisfaction amongst first-time buyers is 14 index points lower compared with repeat purchasers. First-time buyers have particularly lower satisfaction on factors related to the salesperson and delivery process.
"With the sales environment becoming more challenging in 2012, it is vital that dealers go the extra distance to proactively engage potential customers, understand their needs and requirements, and help them move forward with the purchase decision process," said Rajeev Nair, director at J.D. Power Asia Pacific, Singapore. "This is especially important for first-time new-vehicle buyers who tend to be less familiar with the sales process, as well as the features and operations of a new vehicle."
Among the six brands included in the study, Ford ranks highest in customer satisfaction with new-vehicle sales with a score of 856. Ford performs particularly well in the delivery timing and dealer process factors. Honda ranks a close second with a score of 855. Honda performs well in dealer facility; deal; and paperwork factors. Toyota (849) ranks third and performs well in the sales initiation factor.
According to the study, 17 percent of customers experienced some form of pressure from the dealer to make a decision, a 10 percent increase compared with 2011. In particular, it is notable that dealers were putting customers under increased pressure to purchase a model on the same day (up 5%), buy a vehicle without the exact options they want (up 4%) and with accessories the customer didn't want (up 4%) compared with 2011.
"A new-vehicle is one of the most expensive items that a customer invests in during their lifetime," said Nair. "While dealerships are trying very hard to close the sale, it is also important to ensure that customers have enough time to consider all options and are not pressured or rushed into making a decision. This is especially so amongst first-time buyers who report a higher incidence of being put under uncomfortable pressure compared with repeat buyers."
Moreover, the study shows that customers who report that their vehicle was delivered with a special ceremony on average record satisfaction scores 29 points higher than those whose delivery occurred without any such treatment.
"With the large percentage of first-time buyers and low vehicle ownership in Vietnam, purchasing a new vehicle is a very exciting occasion and something customers look forward to," says Nair. "Initiatives by dealers to make this moment special, be it by taking a family photograph with the new car, providing gifts or conducting other such memorial activities is highly appreciated."
Highlighting the importance of satisfaction, the study finds that 52 percent of all customers who are highly satisfied with the sales experience (index scores of 877 or higher) say they "definitely would" recommend their dealer to friends or relatives who are considering purchasing a new vehicle, compared with only 13 percent of less satisfied buyers (scores below 815 index points). Moreover, with 64 percent of new-vehicle buyers indicating that the dealer's reputation was one of the main reasons they chose to purchase--alongside 25 percent reporting that recommendations from others influenced their choice--it is evident that dealers need to consistently deliver a delighted customer experience to attract improved advocacy.
"The importance of word-of-mouth recommendations cannot be underestimated," said Nair. "Particularly during a downturn, it is essential that dealers ensure that every customer is delighted with the sales experience. These delighted customers in turn can help increase the foot falls at the dealerships through positive recommendations to friends and family members considering buying a new vehicle."
The 2012 Vietnam SSI Study is based on responses from 959 new-vehicle owners who purchased their vehicles between October 2011 and June 2012. The study was fielded between May and August 2012.
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
About J.D. Power and Associates
Headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is a global marketing information services company operating in key business sectors including market research, forecasting, performance improvement, Web intelligence and customer satisfaction. The company's quality and satisfaction measurements are based on responses from millions of consumers annually. For more information on car reviews and ratings, car insurance, health insurance, cell phone ratings, and more, please visit JDPower.com. J.D. Power and Associates is a business unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies.
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