WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif., – Vehicle owners who visit dealer facilities for service are considerably more satisfied with their experience at dealerships than with service from independent facilities, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2012 U.S. Customer Service Index (CSI) Study(SM) released today.

Among customers of dealer facilities, overall satisfaction with the service experience averages 38 points higher on a 1,000-point scale, compared with non-dealer facilities (787 vs. 749, respectively). In addition, 79 percent of all service visits among owners of one- to- three-year-old vehicles are performed at dealer facilities — up from 74 percent in 2011 and 72 percent in 2010.

Overall satisfaction with dealer service improves by 19 points in 2012, compared with 2011, with gains in all five study measures. Among the 33 rank-eligible brands, 28 improve in service satisfaction from 2011, with eight brands improving by at least 20 points.

Contributing to the overall improvement is a shift in the proportion of maintenance and repair work performed at dealer service centers. In 2012, 72 percent of vehicle owners indicate their latest dealer service visit was for maintenance rather than repair, an increase from 63 percent in 2011. Customer satisfaction with maintenance visits is typically higher than satisfaction with repair visits, since visits for routine maintenance tend to be less expensive and less time-consuming.

“Steady improvements in vehicle quality, longer intervals between recommended service visits and a higher mix of maintenance service events have had a positive effect on overall dealer service satisfaction,” said Chris Sutton, senior director at J.D. Power and Associates. “Moreover, manufacturers and their dealers have instituted broad-based customer service improvement initiatives to increase satisfaction with both the purchase experience and after-sales service, with the understanding that a substandard service occasion can and will impact their ability to make a future vehicle sale or gain repeat service business.”

The study examines satisfaction among vehicle owners who visit a service department for maintenance or repair work. The CSI rankings are based on dealer service performance during the first three years of new-vehicle ownership, which typically represents the majority of the vehicle warranty period. Five measures are examined to determine overall customer satisfaction with dealer service (listed in order of importance): service quality; service initiation; service advisor; service facility; and vehicle pick-up.

Lexus ranks highest in customer satisfaction with dealer service among luxury brands and receives an award for a fourth consecutive year. Lexus achieves an overall CSI score of 861 and performs particularly well in three of the five measures: service initiation, service facility and service quality. Rounding out the top five nameplates in the luxury segment are Cadillac (852); Jaguar (849); Acura (838); and Porsche (836). Among luxury brands, Audi achieves the greatest improvement (gaining 34 points) from 2011.

Among mass market brands, MINI ranks highest for a second consecutive year with a score of 809. MINI performs particularly well in four of the five measures: service quality, service advisor, service facility and vehicle pick-up. Also among the top five brands in the mass market segment are Buick (805); GMC (803); Chevrolet (801); and Hyundai (791). Of mass market brands, Nissan (which gains 43 points) and Toyota (gains 31 points) achieve the greatest improvements from 2011.

J.D. Power has predicted that due to depressed auto sales during the recession, dealer service volumes will continue to decline through 2013 before rebounding. The challenge for automakers will be to maintain high levels of satisfaction once service volumes do rebound.

The 2012 U.S. CSI Study is based on responses from more than 84,000 owners and lessees of 2007 to 2011 model-year vehicles. The study was fielded between October and December 2011. J.D. Power and Associates measures dealer service in various countries around the world, including Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Africa, Taiwan, Thailand and the UK.

Customer Service Index Ranking J.D. Power.com Power Circle Ratings
(Based on a 1,000-point scale) For Consumers
Luxury Brands
Lexus 861 5
Cadillac 852 4
Jaguar 849 4
Acura 838 3
Porsche 836 3
Luxury Brand Average 835 3
Audi 828 3
Mercedes-Benz 827 3
Infiniti 824 3
BMW 823 3
Lincoln 817 2
Volvo 811 2
Land Rover 796 2
NOTE: SAAB is included in the study, but not ranked due to small sample size.
Mass Market Brands
MINI 809 5
Buick 805 5
GMC 803 5
Chevrolet 801 4
Hyundai 791 4
Ford 786 4
Volkswagen 785 3
Kia 782 3
Honda 778 3
Mass Market Brand Average 778 3
Nissan 774 3
Mazda 767 3
Toyota 766 3
Chrysler 760 2
Subaru 760 2
Mitsubishi 759 2
Ram 754 2
Scion 752 2
Jeep 741 2
smart 740 2
Suzuki 740 2
Dodge 739 2
Power Circle Ratings Legend:
5 – Among the best
4 – Better than most
3 – About average
2 – The rest



Connect with Autos.ca