September 25, 2002

Saturn/Saab/Isuzu dealers best in service: J.D. Power and Associates

Toronto, Ontario – Saturn/Saab/Isuzu dealers rank highest in overall automotive service satisfaction, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2002 Canadian Customer Commitment Study released on Tuesday. Saturn/Saab/Isuzu also captured top spot in the 1999 survey. The study measures customer satisfaction and loyalty of owners who have their vehicles serviced at auto dealers and aftermarket facilities such as Canadian Tire.

According to the study, Saturn/Saab/Isuzu dealers performed well across all five components that determine overall satisfaction: appointment/check-in, service advisor, after service, work quality and the service facility.

Only four automobile dealers scored above average in the survey: Nissan/Infiniti dealers (5th place), Toyota/Lexus dealers (8th place), Acura dealers (9th place), Honda dealers (11th place), and Mazda dealers (15th place).

The following dealers, in alphabetical order, scored below average (J.D. Power does not release the scores of those who score below average): Chrysler, Ford, GM, Hyundai, Subaru and VW/Audi dealers.

While Saturn/Saab/Isuzu dealers perform well in the study, aftermarket service providers receive higher satisfaction scores overall than do dealers.

“The consistently strong performance of aftermarket establishments shows that dealerships aren’t capitalizing on their inherent advantage of being the first touchpoint for the customer-an advantage that continues during the warranty period,” said Rohan Lobo, manager of research projects for J.D. Power and Associates.

Though dealerships continue to have the largest share of service, with 40 percent of the overall market by number of visits, the share is concentrated among newer vehicles still under warranty. Among vehicles 2 to 3 years old, dealerships have almost a 75 percent market share. However, this drops to just under 50 percent for vehicles between 4 to 7 years old, and declines further to 21 percent for vehicles 8 to 12 years old. This lack of loyalty to dealerships underlines the importance of customer relationship management in the post-warranty period.

“Non-routine service activities, which include service other than lube oil/filter changes, is an area in which dealerships are vulnerable,” said Lobo. “The average customer spends less at a dealership than the industry average, demonstrating that more expensive repair/non-routine maintenance jobs are going elsewhere.”

The study finds that a previous good experience is more important than cost in fostering customer retention. Of those customers who rate their overall service experience as outstanding (10 on a 10-point scale), 88 percent say they would return to the facility for the same type of service. Customer retention drops to 65 percent for those who rate their experience an 8 or 9, and just 25 percent for those who provide scores of 5 to 7.

The 2002 Canadian Customer Commitment Study is based on responses from 13,337 owners of vehicles that are 2 to 12 years old.

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