Now in its fifth year, the JD Power 2019 Consumer Service Index measures customer satisfaction among owners of vehicles between one and three years old. The study asks drivers to rate their service experience for maintenance or repair work at a franchised dealer facility, using five separate criteria - each of which is weighted in order of importance.
More than a quarter (26 percent) of the total score is down to service quality, while 23 percent is awarded for the service initiation and 19 percent is determined by the service advisor. The survey also looks into the vehicle collection and the state of the service facility. Once all that is calculated, brands receive a score out of a possible 1,000 points.
This year’s survey of more than 6,750 respondents saw Audi come out on top in the premium sector, scoring 815 out of a possible 1,000, with Mercedes-Benz and BMW following closely behind on 802 and 798 respectively. Meanwhile in the volume sector, Suzuki topped the charts with a score of 813, while Toyota and Honda came second and third with respective scores of 800 and 798.
Overall in the volume sector, customers rated their experience at 786 out of 1,000 - an improvement of seven points on last year, while the average rating in the premium sector stood at 800 - up from 798 in 2018.
Across the board, though, the survey discovered several key trends that affect drivers’ perception of their service. For example, the study noted that dealers who use tablets in their service process increase satisfaction by around 70 points. By the same token, 26 percent of consumers want to book services online, but just 17 percent of dealers provide such an option. And although 31 percent of customers say they want text message updates, just 15 percent are contacted in this way by their dealer.
The study also found that customers like dealers who do the simple things well. Satisfaction with the service advisor rises by 41 points when they speak to the customer immediately upon arrival and service quality ratings improve by 39 points when the customer is contacted by the dealership after service is completed. However, dealers are only managing to complete these respective tasks 38 percent and 62 percent of the time.
“There are still areas where UK dealers can differentiate themselves by providing an exceptional service experience,” said Josh Halliburton, vice-president and head of European operations at JD Power. “Top performers one year can end up below the industry average the next, so paying attention to the little things can make a huge difference in cultivating customer relationships.”
“Customers in younger generations are certainly affecting industry-wide behaviours when it comes to service experience expectations, and this will become more notable as they begin to represent a larger portion of the service business.
“However, there is an increase in preference among those in all generations for text message updates. For example, in the five years this study has been conducted, there’s been an eight-percent increase in preference for this type of communication among Boomers, or customers born between 1946 and 1964. We expect text message updates will become the most preferred means of interaction among all generations within the next few years.”