December 7, 2007

Portable navigation devices have high levels of satisfaction despite problems, says J.D. Power

Westlake Village, California – Nearly two-thirds of portable navigation device (PND) owners have experienced a problem, yet 95 per cent still say that their device meets or exceeds their expectations, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2007 Portable Navigation Device Usage and Satisfaction Study released on Thursday.

The inaugural study measured customer satisfaction with automotive portable navigation devices by examining six factors: ease of use, routing, system appearance, speed of system, voice directions and navigation display screen. Consumers report the highest levels of satisfaction for the overall appearance and voice directions, while system speed receives the lowest satisfaction ratings.

The study found that the incidence of problems among portable navigation device owners is particularly high at 255 problems per 100 (PP100) units. All problems are summarized as PP100, with lower scores indicating a lower rate of problem incidences and higher quality. Accuracy of route (25 PP100) and system mounting (24 PP100) are the two most frequently reported issues, accounting for nearly 20 per cent of all problems experienced.

“When experiencing a problem, customers who contacted the manufacturer directly-via online or telephone-for support were much more satisfied than those who returned back to the retail store,” said Mike Marshall, director of automotive emerging technologies at J.D. Power and Associates. “This suggests that retail store representatives may lack the necessary knowledge of the products being sold. However, the direct support provided through the manufacturer may be more knowledgeable and better equipped to answer questions and assist customers with their issues.”

When it comes to additional features owners would like to have included on their portable navigation device, they are particularly interested in having real-time traffic, current weather forecasts, voice command and speed alerts. However, features with the largest gap in supply and demand include camera and iPod compatibility. Approximately 25 per cent of owners say they want a device with iPod compatibility, while only 14 per cent report having this feature. In addition, only 12 per cent of owners report having a camera in their portable navigation device, yet 26 per cent desire this feature.

The study also found that while the majority of owners purchased their devices at retail stores, one-third purchased them online. When comparing the buying experiences of both online and traditional retail shoppers, owners who shopped online were generally more satisfied.

The 2007 Portable Navigation Device Usage and Satisfaction Study is based on responses from 4,013 owners of automotive portable devices by brands such as Garmin, Magellan, Mio and TomTom. The study was fielded in September through October 2007.

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