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.
Related GalleryJD Power 2009 Sales Satisfaction Study
[Source: J.D. Power]
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.