J.D. Power: Lexus, MINI Dealerships Lead In Customer Satisfaction

March 11, 2011
2011 Lexus CT 200h

2011 Lexus CT 200h

2011 MINI Cooper Countryman

2011 MINI Cooper Countryman

Lexus and MINI are among the brands with the best dealership service. That's according to the J.D. Power and Associates' 2011 U.S. Customer Service Index (CSI) Study—the big annual study that gauges multiple aspects of dealership service after the sale.

Overall, Lexus ranked at the top among all brands, and it was the top-performing luxury brand for the third year in a row. Among luxury brands, Jaguar, Cadillac, and Acura demonstrated post-sales service at the dealership that was well above average. Porsche and Volvo were most improved, while Volvo, Land Rover, and Audi dealerships lagged at the bottom.

Power indicated that satisfaction ranges nearly 140 points on the firm's scale, with an average of 642 in the survey. Although luxury brands performed significantly better than mass-market ones, on average, it's certainly worth noting that Chevrolet's dealerships performed better in post-sales service satisfaction, than those of either Volvo or Land Rover.

Volkswagen is something of a success story; it rated near the bottom of Power's CSI metrics just a few years ago, but it's now well above the mass-market average, and eighth place among those brands overall. That's quite a turnaround from several years ago, when the brand's products were broadly appealing to shoppers, but owners expressed much frustration in dealing with VW's U.S. dealerships.

Suzuki, Jeep, and Nissan had the poorest dealer service among mass-market brands--although Suzuki and Mazda are the two brands J.D. Power singled out as most improved.

After MINI, GMC and Buick (both longtime high achievers in dealer service) rated high, as did Chevrolet, Kia, and Hyundai. Both Kia and Hyundai have been making significant efforts over the past several years to upgrade dealership facilities, and it's clearly paying off.

One surprising finding of this year's CSI study is that so-called upselling—in which a dealer attempts to sell service work that's perceived as unnecessary—is relatively rare. Only seven percent, on average, of those service customers polled indicated any kind of upselling; though the percentage was somewhat higher, at nine percent for those with four-year-old vehicles.

According to Jon Osborn, J.D. Power's research director, dealers' service volumes for in-warranty vehicles are expected to take a dive—all the way through 2013—with an overall drop in service dollars of up to 25 percent, as we reported last year. "As a result, maintaining service customer share and loyalty will be vital to dealers in the coming years," he said in a release. And they're making progress.

Between October and December 2010, J.D. Power gathered responses from more than 97,300 owners and lessees of 2006 to 2010 model-year vehicles for this year's survey.

[J.D. Power and Associates]

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