Automakers Doing Better Job of Satisfying Customers, Finds New JD Power Study

by on Mar.16, 2017

Lexus topped the 2017 CSI, but has growing competition, notably including U.S. brands like Buick.

While consumers have had to suffer through a modest increase in quality and reliability issues in recent years – most in the form of balky electronics – automakers appear to be doing a better job of keeping their owners happy, according to a new study by J.D. Power and Associates.

When it comes to servicing the vehicles they sell, Power shows a “significant” uptick in the 2017 Customer Satisfaction Index. The CSI focuses on how owners feel things went at franchised dealer and independent service facilities. The latest study calls out Lexus as tops among luxury brands, Buick among mainstream marques.

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“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.”

(Lexus to add new UX crossover to line-up. Click Here for the story.)

The annual CSI comes as a bit of much-needed good news for both automakers and auto buyers. Recent studies have found that both out-of-the box vehicle quality and longer-term reliability have been dropping. The primary issues involve navigation and infotainent systems, especially those using voice controls.

Numerous studies, over the years, have shown that carmakers can rebuild trust, loyalty and satisfaction if they get things right once the car goes into the repair shop.

Buick has been moving up the quality, reliability and customer service charts in recent years.

On a 1,000-point scale, Power found the biggest jump in terms of service quality, but most aspect of the service experience improved, with overall scores jumping from 802 in the 2016 study to 816.

In an era when more and more consumers go online in the automotive shopping process, it’s likely no surprise owners also want more high-tech approaches to service, such as the ability to schedule appointments online. Owners whose dealers or repair shops communicated using text messages – such as “Your car is ready” – were most pleased, with their loyalty rates rising as much as 6%, to 67 percent.

Using online scheduling and giving service advisors tablets to speed up the process also scored big.

(Click Here to see which cars topped – and lagged – the annual Consumer Reports auto survey.)

One of the more notable findings of the 2017 CSI is the fact that motorists give higher ratings to franchised dealers than to independent service garages in 15 of 16 categories. The only place independents top the chart – and just barely — is in time required to complete repairs.

Another surprise was the strong showing by Detroit makers. Lexus led the luxury segment with a score of 874, followed by Audi and, in a near dead heat by second, Lincoln. Porsche and Cadillac rounded out the top five. Land Rover lagged in last among upscale marques, scoring just 828.

Among mainstream makers, Buick topped the class, at 850 points, followed by Mini, GMC, Chevrolet and Nissan. Four Fiat Chrysler brands anchored the segment, with fiat, scoring just 739, at bottom. It was followed, in reverse order, by Jeep, Ram and Dodge.

(For a look at the radically restyled Lexus LS, Click Here.)


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One Response to “Automakers Doing Better Job of Satisfying Customers, Finds New JD Power Study”

  1. veh says:

    Automakers? Really, this is more about dealers.


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