2013 U.S. Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) Study Results

Jeff Youngs | Nov 15, 2013

Sales satisfaction among new-vehicle buyers is 52 points higher (on a 1,000-point scale) when their salesperson uses a tablet device during the sales process, according to the recently published J.D. Power 2013 U.S. Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) Study.SM Moreover, satisfaction is highest among new-vehicle buyers who are presented with pricing and payment options on a tablet or a computer screen.

The study finds that overall satisfaction with the vehicle sales experience is 844 when the salesperson uses a tablet device, compared with 792 when no tablet is used. With regard to pricing and payment options, satisfaction is highest among new-vehicle buyers who are presented with that information on a computer screen or tablet (833), followed by a computer printout (820); verbal price quotes (792); and hand-written figures (780).

In Spite of Benefits, Tablet Use Remains Rare

However, only 10% of dealership salespeople use a tablet device--an increase from just 7% in the 2012 study. New-vehicle buyers most often indicate that salespeople use these devices to capture their personal information (51%); demonstrate vehicle features (41%); and display price or payment information (38%). During the shopping process, consumers most often use their mobile devices at the dealership to access vehicle pricing information (72%); model information (52%); and search inventory (38%).

"The study finds that tablets are proving to be versatile and effective tools that may help maintain consistency in the sales process, while providing easily accessible and dynamic product information," said Chris Sutton, senior director of the automotive retail practice at J.D. Power. "Although tablet usage has increased from a year ago, dealers are still missing an opportunity to improve their sales experience by providing shoppers with sales information on a single platform that allows them to easily browse options and features with immediate commentary from their salesperson."

Jaguar Tops Luxury Brand Sales Satisfaction Rankings

In the 2013 U.S. SSI Study, overall sales satisfaction improves 9 points to 673 year over year. Jaguar ranks highest among luxury brands in satisfaction with the new-vehicle buying experience, with a score of 740. Among luxury brands, Volvo improves the most (up 30 index points) and moves up in the rankings to 9th in 2013, from 11th in 2012.

For a fourth consecutive year, Mini ranks highest among mass market brands, with a score of 718--a 6-point increase from 2012. Among mass market brands, Kia improves the most (up 33 index points) and ranks 11th in 2013, up from 16th in 2012.

Among luxury brands, Jaguar, Lexus, and Porsche all receive an overall rating of 5 Power Circles in the JDPower.com Power Circle RatingsTM for the sales experience they provide. Among mass market brands, only Mini earns 5 Power Circles.

Consumer Tips

Based on the study, J.D. Power offers the following consumer tips for a satisfying new-car sales experience:

  • Don't hesitate to ask the vehicle salesperson to provide pricing and payment information in the medium with which you're most comfortable: computer screen, printout, in writing, etc.
  • Use the Web to pre-shop various vehicle makes and models before you begin visiting dealerships. This will help you narrow your search.
  • Visit the websites of independent research firms to compare various vehicle makes and models and get owner feedback.

About the Study

The 2013 U.S. Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) Study is based on responses from 29,040 buyers who purchased or leased their new vehicle in April or May 2013. The study is a comprehensive analysis of the new-vehicle purchase experience and measures customer satisfaction with the selling dealer (satisfaction among buyers). The study also measures satisfaction with brands and dealerships that were shopped but ultimately rejected in favor of the selling brand and dealership (satisfaction among rejecters) and was fielded between July and September 2013.

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