In a world of mind-numbingly similar consumer products, the companies that get the edge tend to be those that focus on customer satisfaction. The car business is no different, but automakers tend to fall victim to their business structure: whereas a company like Apple can sell you an iPod at one of their own stores, car companies can only sell their products through franchised dealerships, where sometimes the sales process falls apart.

Luxury Brand Rankings Sales Satisfaction Index Ranking

Top 10 Luxury Brands Sales Satisfaction Index Ranking
Jaguar 898
Cadillac 893
Lexus 877
Mercedes-Benz 877
Land Rover 872
Luxury Segment Average 864
Lincoln 863
BMW 861
Porsche 861
SAAB 857
Acura 856
Top 10 Mass Market Brands Sales Satisfaction Index Ranking
Mercury 867
smart 865
Buick 864
Pontiac 864
Chevrolet 863
MINI 862
Saturn 858
GMC 853
Ford 847
Mass Market Segment Average 832

Source: J.D. Power 2009 Customer Satisfaction Survey. (Based on a 1,000-point scale)

J.D. Power released their 2009 customer satisfaction survey this morning and it appears that car companies are on the upswing overall, with the most satisfied owners having purchased cars from Jaguar and Mercury. Overall satisfaction for 2009 now averages 836 points on a 1,000-point scale in 2009, up by 11 points from 2008.

The survey rates overall customer satisfaction as measured for five factors: dealership facility; salesperson; paperwork/finance process; delivery process; and vehicle price.

J.D. Power said the two parts of customer satisfaction that improved the most were the salesperson and the delivery process. But, of course, in this economic climate, not all salespersons were rated the highest.

"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."

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." It's difficult to imagine how this type of behavior is tolerated in 2009 (or any year), but that's the reality of buying a car.

The full rankings, segmented by luxury and mass market brands, are below. Note that Mini was the brand that made the biggest jump in 2009, leaping 16 positions in a single year.

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