Now in its 11th year, the study examines seven factors that contribute to overall customer satisfaction with the new-vehicle purchase experience (in order of importance): delivery process; sales initiation; salesperson; paperwork; delivery timing; dealer facility; and deal. Performance is reported as an index score based on a 1,000-point scale, in which a higher overall score indicates greater satisfaction with the new-vehicle sales and delivery process.
Overall sales satisfaction in Malaysia averages 798 in 2013, an increase of 17 points from 2012. Overall satisfaction improves among all factors when compared with 2012, with dealer facility (+25 points) and delivery process (+20) showing the largest improvements.
While overall sales satisfaction has improved in 2013, the gap in sales satisfaction between domestic and import manufacturers in Malaysia has widened to 30 points in 2013 from 11 points in 2012. Contributing to the increase in the gap are lower scores year over year in the sales initiation and salesperson factors.
"Salesperson-centric qualities, such as fulfillment of commitments, focusing attention on the customer, and thoroughness of following up on customer requests, are key areas for improvement," said Rajaswaran Tharmalingam, Malaysia country head at J.D. Power Asia Pacific, Singapore.
The study identifies 19 sales standards that enhance the overall customer sales experience. When shown the list of 19 sales standards and asked to identify which ones their salesperson followed, 72 percent of new-vehicle buyers in 2013 say their salesperson followed at least 14 standards, an increase from 70 percent in 2012.
Improvements in overall sales satisfaction in 2013 are also attributed to external factors, such as the stabilization in the supply chain for popular models in the market.
"Natural disasters such as the Japan tsunami and Thailand floods in 2011 caused inventory shortages in 2012, which affected deliveries and customer satisfaction," said Tharmalingam.
Tharmalingam also notes that guidelines by Malaysia's Bank Negara that made it more difficult to obtain a vehicle loan in 2012 have eased somewhat in 2013, making credit more available to new-vehicle buyers in Malaysia.
"Automakers need to be aware of, and take into consideration, the influence of external factors so that they are able to better position themselves to manage new-vehicle buyer expectations," said Tharmalingam.
The study finds that the salesperson should have adequate product knowledge, including such sales promotion information as discounts, to help make the process more enriching for new-vehicle buyers. While 69 percent of buyers knew exactly the model they wanted before they visited the showroom, 23 percent say the salesperson's knowledge regarding vehicles was either disappointing or indifferent.
"Continuous product training for the sales team helps ensure they achieve a meaningful discussion with product-savvy new-vehicle buyers," said Tharmalingam. "Exceeding buyer expectations creates a notably positive experience. Following up with buyers after the sale goes a long way to improving satisfaction."
Presently, only 67 percent of buyers are contacted after delivery of their new vehicle to ensure they are satisfied.
Among the 12 brands included in the 2013 study, Toyota ranks highest with a score of 826. Toyota improves across all factors, with the largest year-over-year improvements in salesperson, deal, paperwork and dealer facility.
Nissan ranks second with 823 points, followed by Suzuki (821), Mazda (813) and Ford (812). Suzuki is the most-improved brand with a 61-point increase in overall score from 2012.
The 2013 Malaysia SSI Study is based on responses from 2,622 new-vehicle buyers who purchased their vehicle between August 2012 and April 2013. The study, which measures new-vehicle owner satisfaction with the sales and delivery experience at authorized dealers in Malaysia, was fielded between February and June 2013.