July 21, 2004

Lincoln ranks highest in customer satisfaction at dealer

Westlake Village, California – With a record-setting index score of 912, Lincoln ranks highest in satisfying its customers with dealer service, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2004 Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) Study released on Tuesday. The previous industry record was 903, set by Lexus in 2001. This marks the first time in the study’s 23-year history that Lincoln ranks highest in CSI.

The study measures customer satisfaction among new-vehicle owners with the dealer service department during the first three years of vehicle ownership, which typically represents the majority of the vehicle warranty period. Overall satisfaction is based on six service categories: initiating service, service advisor, in-dealership experience, service delivery, service quality, and user-friendly service.

Lincoln’s top ranking is driven by a 17 index-point improvement over 2003. Lincoln’s improvements come in areas that have a strong impact on customer satisfaction. Among maintenance customers, who make up two-thirds of its service business, Lincoln receives significantly improved ratings in “fairness of charges” and in the areas of service initiation and service delivery. In fact, 97 percent of customers say they got the appointment date they wanted, and customers gave strong ratings on the ease of getting in and out of the dealership.

The industry achieved widespread improvements in customer satisfaction, gaining 11 index points over 2003. Nearly one-half of brands improved at least 10 points. Equally impressive is the fact that seven brands receive a score of 900 or higher out of a potential 1,000 in 2004 – a feat previously accomplished only by Lexus and Saturn. Following Lincoln (912) in the rankings are Buick (909), Infiniti (908), Cadillac (904), Lexus (902), Saturn (901) and Acura (900).

The biggest index-score improvements in 2004 come from Audi and Jaguar, which each improve an impressive 31 points over 2003, and Land Rover, which improves 29 points. Audi, which jumps 10 rank positions to tie with Hummer for 10th, experiences improved ratings from both maintenance and repair customers, particularly in the consideration of a customer’s time, the amount of time waiting to speak to a service advisor and the time it took to get the vehicle after service.

Also notable is that all of General Motors’ brands scored above the industry average.

The 2004 CSI Study is based on responses from more than 97,000 new-vehicle owners and lessees in the U.S.

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