• Dec 8, 2009
J.D. Power has released its 2009 Sales Satisfaction Index, and 29 of 38 brands improved their standing versus last year's numbers. The industry watchdogs at Power say that sales people improved the most over 2008, which isn't surprising given the fact that fewer vehicles are flying off dealer lots and every customer is a precious commodity. Even with the improved standing versus 2008, J.D. Power says that brands still lost 12% of sales on average due to poor service at the dealer level, a statistic that could have automakers cringing.

Jaguar took top luxury honors for the second straight year with an 898 index score, beating second place Cadillac by a scant five points. J.D. Power says Jaguar excels in both salesperson interactions and the handling of the dreaded financing/paperwork. The top five rounds out with Lexus, Mercedes Benz and Land Rover. Audi performed most poorly of any brand studied, while Infiniti and Volvo also fared poorly.

Mercury was the top non-luxury make with a score of 867, followed by Smart, Buick, Pontiac and Chevrolet. Mercury reportedly scored well on all five categories tested, though we're a bit puzzled how Mercury could beat Lincoln by four points in spite of the fact that the two makes usually share a common dealership. Japanese and Korean brand-dealers scored poorly in the survey as Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Kia and Mazda all scored below the industry average of 832.

General Motors and Ford dealers fared very well in the survey, with all of their brands except Lincoln coming in over the industry average. Chrysler brands, however, did not do as well, with all three makes falling under the industry Mendoza line. Mitsubishi was by far the worst dealership to deal with, with an industry-low 778 index score. Hit the jump to read over the J.D. Power press release and click on the gallery below to view the survey scores for both luxury and mass market offerings.



[Source: J.D. Power]

PRESS RELEASE

J.D. Power and Associates Reports:

Despite Higher Customer Satisfaction with the New-Vehicle Sales Process, Automotive Brands, on Average, Are Losing 12 Percent of Buyers to Competitors Due to Poor Customer Treatment

Jaguar Ranks Highest among Luxury Brands in Satisfying Customers with the New-Vehicle Sales Process; Mercury Ranks Highest among Mass Market Brands

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif.: 8 December 2009 - Overall satisfaction with the new-vehicle purchase experience has improved from 2008, but automakers are losing 12 percent of new-vehicle sales to other brands, on average, as a result of poor customer treatment at dealerships, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2009 Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) StudySM released today.

The study is a comprehensive analysis of the new-vehicle purchase experience. Overall customer satisfaction is measured for five factors: dealership facility; salesperson; paperwork/finance process; delivery process; and vehicle price.

Overall satisfaction averages 836 points on a 1,000-point scale in 2009, up by 11 points from 2008.1 Satisfaction with each of the five factors improves from 2008, with the greatest improvements in the two areas that are most within the dealer's control-the salesperson and delivery process factors.

In particular, salespeople have improved most notably from 2008 in helping buyers stay within their budgets and in negotiating prices quickly. Within the delivery process, dealerships have improved considerably in providing complete explanations of the owner's manual and explaining vehicle features.

"In this difficult economy, dealerships are working particularly hard to close sales, but need to be attentive to customers without exerting unwanted sales pressure," said Jon Osborn, director of automotive research at J.D. Power and Associates. "Nearly one in four buyers in 2009 reports experiencing sales pressure from their selling dealer."

The study finds that more than one in five shoppers who leave a dealership without purchasing a vehicle do so because they experienced poor treatment or dealer performance issues such as pricing games, sales pressure tactics or discourteous treatment. While 43 percent of these buyers ultimately purchased from a different dealer of the same brand, 57 percent decided to purchase from a different brand altogether. For the industry as a whole, this equals a 12 percent loss of retail sales to other brands.

"With the billions of dollars that automakers spend designing, producing and marketing new vehicles, as well as in driving customers to showrooms, it is critical that potential buyers are not pushed out the dealer's door because of a poor customer experience," said Osborn. "Manufacturers and dealers should be concerned with the experiences of all shoppers, whether they purchase or not. From a buyer's perspective, recollections of their shopping experience include not only the selling dealer, but also all of the other dealers they visited."

Sales Satisfaction Index Segment Rankings
Of the 38 brands included in the study, 29 have improved from 2008. Jaguar receives an award for a second consecutive year and ranks highest in 2009 among luxury brands in satisfying buyers with the new-vehicle sales process. Jaguar performs particularly well in the salesperson and paperwork/finance process factors. Following Jaguar in the luxury brand rankings are Cadillac, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz (in a tie) and Land Rover, respectively.

Among mass market brands, Mercury ranks highest and performs particularly well in all five factors. Following in the mass market segment rankings are smart, Buick, Pontiac and Chevrolet, respectively. All seven Ford and GM mass market brands rank above the segment average.

MINI improves by 16 rank positions from 2008 to rank sixth in 2009, and is the most-improved brand this year.

The study findings also include the following key trends:

* On average, new-vehicle buyers shop at fewer than three dealerships, including the dealership from which they ultimately purchased. Nearly one-half (49%) of all new-vehicle buyers visit only their selling dealer during the purchase process. Therefore, dealers should view all shoppers as serious prospects and treat them accordingly.
* Satisfaction scores among buyers who visited only the selling dealer (848, on average) are considerably higher than those of customers who visited more than one dealer (826, on average). Customers who have a particularly satisfying experience at the first dealer they visit are less likely to shop other dealers.

The 2009 Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) Study is based on responses from approximately 48,000 new-vehicle buyers who purchased or leased their new vehicles in May or June 2009. The study was fielded between August and October 2009. To view ratings on customer satisfaction with the new-vehicle sales process or an article on study results, visit JDPower.com.

1Due to a change in survey methodology, for the 2009 study, the overall satisfaction score for 2008 has been recalculated to allow for year-to-year comparison.


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  • 42 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      What a joke...Jaguar and Mercury owners are too OLD to read the small print on the surveys! FICTION!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Sales satisfaction. Humpf. Who cares? Is somebody really going to buy a Caddy, even though what they really wanted was an Audi, just because they were afraid of a bad 'purchase experience'?

      I also love the fine print at the bottom that says the results may not be statistically significant. That's for sure: there's more variation in experience between different dealerships (or individual sales reps) of the same brand than there is between the aggregate experiences from different brands.

      The entire survey is insignificant.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Last June my wife and I were on our way to Niagra Falls via Monroe Mi. (wanted to see Greenfield Village but stay clear of Detroit) pulling a 30' camper in a 95 Ram 2500 with well over 200K. We were in Monroe, 270 miles from home and had a major problem with the rear end and we decided to buy a truck in Monroe. We stopped at a dodge dealer, told him our story (mistake)' picked out a truck at over 42K and not only were we treated like foriegners, he would'nt budge on MSRP. Stopped at a Ford dealer, nice folks but not willing to budge on price. We went down the street to Groulx GMC, told him the story and the first thing out of his mouth was "How about if we help you get your truck fixed, I'll get you a rental, finish your vacation and bring the rental truck back after you take your trailer home and if you still need to buy, wiat til you get home". I asked if him if my money was no good that far from home and he told me that he'd sell me a truck in a heartbeat but knew I was stressed out and claimed "I don't want to take advantage of you in a bad situation. Take one of my loaners, go see Greenfield Village and if you still want a new truck, we'll sit down and talk.
      We came back the next night, bought a Sierra at a very good price well below MSRP. While we were waiting for the truck to be prepped, the manager sent us down the street to a nice resturant and when it was time to pay up we were told the bill was paid by the dealer.
      I have bought many new cars and trucks in my life, but have never been treated with as much respect and kindness than this dealer. I have'nt been back there since then, but I've had at least a half dozen phone calls from them asking if everything worked out for me. This is customer service at it's finest.
      If it's wrong to say the dealers name, I'm sorry but this was by far the most pleasant buying expierence I've ever had. And it's one helluva truck.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I still can't believe there are people out there who buy Dodge, Chrysler and Jeep in spite of the fact that company has put out product with poor quality for last 100 years.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Maxwell Motor company was founded in early 1900s.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Please take your hate and your silly statements somewhere else where they care (good luck finding a place).

        Oh, by the way, Chrysler hasn't even been in business for 100 years. Maybe you are mixing them up with GM.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Chrylser's only connection with Maxwell is that they used one of their factories (on Jeffereson Ave in Detroit). Chrysler was founded in 1926.
      • 5 Years Ago
      well, I think a lot depends on how you show up a thte dealer

      I had a great experience at hte Acura dealer (and I showed up on a test drive vehicle from Infiniti) - they were quick to point out how good the G35 is adn off course the TL gives up nothing to it, was and treated me really nice (coffe, etc) they even let me have the TL for 3hours

      Now, I showed up at the BMW dealer with the G35 test vehicle I was driving and boy they just proceeded to say all sorts of bad things about the G and could not believe I was cross-shoping the 3-series to the G and as soon as they learned I was price counscious they just gave up and barely even bother to provide any service to me

      I could have cared less - I still test drove what I went there for and at the end liked the G better

      The Cadillac dealer was in my experience the best - they really outdid themselves to get me into the CTS, but the price adn the car were way off the G and the 3-series (this is back in Feb 04)

      the Audi delaer - well they took forever to get any service and I just ditced out of there once I finished hte testdrive since the A4 was by far the worst of the cars I test drove (interior quality aside)
      • 5 Years Ago
      Mitsubishi's score doesn't surprise me. Their bottom-feeder cars typically sell only with lots of cash on the hood, and most of the buyers have two-digit credit scores.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Well, the latest surveys to come out really reward FoMoCo! It's great to see Lincoln doing better and well in particular, they've been working really hard on their latest cars and they sadly don't get the credit they deserve, unlike the New Buick.

      As to why Mercury fares better than Lincoln in points, it's definitely a matter of expectation. People who buy Mercury are people who want to buy Fords in a Lincoln dealership, to get closer to the car they wish they had. Meaning they are happy to shop at a luxury dealership even if they leave with an upscale Ford (which Lincolns aren't :P ).

      Lincoln customers come for Lincolns anyway, and if anything they'll compare their experience with the other brands they've cross-shopped, not to the regular Ford dealership like Mercury customers do.
      • 5 Years Ago
      lol Buick isn't in the luxury game yet.
        • 5 Years Ago
        yeah I noticed that too. Sucks for GM. Give it some time and they should get there, but for now it's just proof how confused that brand is/was.
      • 5 Years Ago
      "... though we're a bit puzzled how Mercury could beat Lincoln by four points in spite of the fact that the two makes usually share a common dealership."

      Sheesh, Chris!

      The difference (867 vs 863 or less than half of one percent) is statistically insignifcant. It's much less than the survey's margin of error, which is likely to be at the very least 2 or 3 percentage points.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Interesting how much better Mercury did than Ford... the waterfall grille must just be really awesome.
        • 5 Years Ago
        It probably has less to do with what mercury has (although probably a little nicer dealership experience)

        as compared to what mercury doesn't have. They have fewer products than Ford, and thus less chance of trouble.

        And Ford dealers are probably a bit more mass-market, and less individually focused, over-all.
        • 5 Years Ago
        This has nothing to do with the cars themselves, this is comparing the dealer experience. This is all about perception, which explains why Mercury did better than Lincoln regardless of the shared space. A Mercury customer and a Lincoln customer have different expectations of the service they should receive from their sales people.
      • 5 Years Ago
      "Mercury reportedly scored well on all five categories tested, though we're a bit puzzled how Mercury could beat Lincoln by four points in spite of the fact that the two makes usually share a common dealership. "

      Simple. Lincoln buyers tend to have more money, and people with more money tend to be more discriminating and critical. Whereas the Mercury buyer would be happy that free coffee was offered, the Lincoln buyer would complain because they had real sugar and Sweet 'n Low, but didn't have Splenda.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I always take these surveys with a grain of salt, but either way, it's a pretty impressive showing for the Detroit automakers




      ... well except for Chrysler.
        • 5 Years Ago
        At this point (inches from being forced into Chapter 7), you'd think that Chrysler / Jeep / Dodge dealers would treat *any* prospective buyer as manna from Heaven...

        OTOH, if they're still pulling the classic dealer shenanigans, who's going to put up with that when the product doesn't deliver and doesn't last?
        • 5 Years Ago
        My car was not a bargain-basement special but a G8 GXP. My deal was decent, but no one was racing to the bottom on those cars. Nevertheless I was quite pleased with my sales experience.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I've bought three new cars in my lifetime, and I'd rank the quality of the selling dealers as follows:

        1. Pontiac
        2. Acura

        ...

        -10. Honda

        I buy these results, and I think it's a testament to the quality of Detroit dealers (well, evidently except Chrysler) that Detroit cars kept selling in the numbers they did during Detroit's darkest period in the '80s and early '90s.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Speaking of pontiac, I'm not surprised they have a high costumer satisfaction rate. I mean they were practically giving cars away and even if you thought the g6 was mediocre, the cobalt clone subpar, and the G3 and abomination, at the price Pontiac charged they weren't bad at all(well except the g3).
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yea, poor Chrysler. They are tied with ...TOYOTA!
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