When it comes to handing out awards, nobody works harder than J.D. Power. With surveys concocted to measure dependability, brand reputation, customer retention, quality, and whatever else the company can dream up, we sometimes wonder whether the company's plaudits aren't becoming a little like "participant" medals awarded at the end of kids' sports seasons.

This latest J.D. Power survey, the 2012 Customer Service Index, measures service satisfaction at dealerships. The most interesting find is that overall satisfaction at dealers is nearly four percent greater than at independent repair facilities. Visits to dealers among owners of vehicles less than three years old are up as well.

Of course, the numbers that people will be most interested in relate to how each brand fared in the survey. J.D. Power ranks each marque on a 1,000-point scale, "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."

The brands are broken into either luxury or mainstream categories, and the top performers in each list are clustered fairly close together. Lexus scored 861 points, followed by Cadillac (852) and Jaguar (849) on the luxury side. The mass market competitors finished even closer, with Mini leading at 809 points, followed closely by three General Motors brands: Buick (805), GMC (803) and Chevrolet (801).

See below for the full press release.
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J.D. Power and Associates Reports: Customer Satisfaction with Dealer Service Facilities Outpaces Satisfaction With Independent Service Centers
Lexus Receives an Award in Customer Satisfaction with Dealer Service for a Fourth Consecutive Year, While MINI Ranks Highest among Mass Market Brands for a Second Consecutive Year


WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif., March 14, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- 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 study identifies specific actions dealerships can take to maintain high levels of satisfaction both through periods of lower service volume and as volume increases:
  • Promote online scheduling of service appointments. Customers who schedule a service appointment online are notably more satisfied with the service experience than are customers who call to make an appointment or who drop by the dealership without an appointment. In addition, customers who schedule service online spend $36 more on service per year than do customers who do not make an appointment, and $17 more per year than customers who call to make an appointment.
  • Review the technician inspection report with all service customers. Service customers who indicate the service advisor reviewed the multi-point inspection report with them are significantly more likely to say they "definitely will" return for both paid and warranty service work, compared with customers who didn't receive a report review. Customers whose service advisor provided a review of the inspection report are also much more likely to say they "definitely will" repurchase or lease the same vehicle make.
  • Consider the benefits of implementing complimentary maintenance programs. Not unexpectedly, owners of vehicles covered by manufacturer-sponsored maintenance programs are more likely to visit the dealer for service, rather than a non-dealer service facility. These brands also benefit from higher rates of service visit retention after the warranty/complimentary maintenance contract expires, compared with brands without complimentary maintenance programs.

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.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 34 Comments
      Lachmund
      • 2 Years Ago
      lol at this car
        Polly Prissy Pants
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Lachmund
        Indeed, that is one homely automobile. Reminds me of an 80's Oldsmobile for some reason.
      R3TRO
      • 2 Years Ago
      I have a Cadillac STS. Had to replace battery so ordered one from parts dept. Took it to my car and didn't realize I needed another socket size for the tray. The service guy called a mechanic up and he personally removed the bolt for me and took the old battery back for me. I thought this was excellent service considering I did this in the parking lot, bypassing a service fee. Also have oil changed there and they gave me a loaner CTS for a few hours, washed my car, have a starbucks machine that grinds and brews every cup, frig full of bottled Cadillac (!) water, and super friendly staff. Compared to my last car (Mitsubishi), they are head and shoulders above! Maybe 10% more than the independents, but I think the service is worth it.
      eljay001
      • 2 Years Ago
      JD Power thinks a 3.8% spread in satisfaction between dealers and indies is a "considerable" difference?
      pickles
      • 2 Years Ago
      MINI must have shaped up or poured a little extra Kool-Aid. Suffering 13 months, one week and 2 days with my MINI and the incompetent dealer service (as well as the painful run-flats) fissured my love. Yet the gestation period of order-to-recieving a MINI is so fun and endearing -they're bound to really gain on JD Power surveys, just because customers feel like a 'part of the brand'.
      desinerd1
      • 2 Years Ago
      Mini makes ordinary cars at luxury car prices. They should be in the other category, behind Lexus, Cadillac and Jaguar.
      Jason
      • 2 Years Ago
      Please, JD Powers is a JOKE, they give out Awards for stupid things. I don't trust anything they have to say anymore.
        BrunoT
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jason
        They don't give out awards. They SELL the results of those awards so they can be used in marketing. Those manufacturers unable or unwilling to pay are unlikely to score well for obvious reasons. Have you seen the actual questionaires? They're so long only a loser with no job or life would take the time to fill one out.
        Al Terego
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jason
        ..huge joke, especially second place in the luxury category, right?
      BlackDynamiteOn
      • 2 Years Ago
      Lexus wins another award? What a shock...... BD
        • 2 Years Ago
        @BlackDynamiteOn
        [blocked]
          BlackDynamiteOn
          • 2 Years Ago
          That's the best trollage you've got? You aren't winning any awards anytime soon. I guess you're the Suzuki of trolls...... BD
      Scr
      • 2 Years Ago
      Lexus: because they pamper your ass with free wi-fi in their really comfortable customer lounges, offer free food and drinks (my friend used to go there for lunch and have her car washed for free), oh, and free car washes. They really bent over backwards for you. I wonder if Lexus has special agreements with the dealers or they pull the delaership.Most dealers, once the car is sold to the dealer, they don't care and can't really say anything. Mini: because the cars break so much and are in the shop so often, you become best buds with the service manager,
        sjmoo
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Scr
        Lexus is unique among auto companies in that all the dealerships are owned by the manufacturer. As a result, Lexus can monitor and ensure that all dealerships deliver a high level of service. with most other luxury brands the dealerships are simply franchises. Thus, one dealer may be exceptional while another is terrible. For example, I live in the Bay Area. My regular MB dealer is fantastic and always treated me exceptionally well. A second dealer I go to occasionally (it is right by my work) is rude, incompetent, and commits price gouging.
          Scr
          • 2 Years Ago
          @sjmoo
          I didn't think that was legal. Chrysler got in trouble for owning a dealership, but I guess that was competing against a frnachise. I know there are laws about amanufacturer actually owning dealerships..because they can undercut price with no middleman. I'd love to see manufacturer owned stores for all automobiles. Maybe then the stupid games and mass ripoffs would cease.
        Klinkster
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Scr
        So true about Mini...because after all - you get shafted so much by overpaying for your Mini that the OEM and dealers can afford to replace your parts without question. Hence - great service. LOL @ suckers!
      ammca66564
      • 2 Years Ago
      Problem is, if you want that Lexus service, you're going to wind up with a car as ugly as the one above. No thanks.
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      Clock
      • 2 Years Ago
      I went to a Lexus dealer to get an owners manual for my 14 year old SC400. They were gregarious and accommodating to say the least. I may never buy a new car, (I'll probably never need to) but I'm proud of Lexus.
      Polly Prissy Pants
      • 2 Years Ago
      I've had service from a local Lexus dealership and a local Hyundai dealership and they both were exceptional. The only difference was how much they spent on interior decorating. The only real bad experience I've had was with a Dodge dealership. Of course it's hard offering a good service experience when you're trying to keep Dodges on the road. The nonstop stream of broken cars and pissed off customers must be a real beatdown after a while.
        kontroll
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Polly Prissy Pants
        it's a hunk of junk, that's what it reminds me of
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