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The recently released J.D. Power 2014 U.S. Customer Service Index Study produced some interesting, and very promising, results. The report concluded that customer satisfaction with dealer service has increased across the board with overall CSI increasing from an average score of 846 to 855 in luxury brands, and from 789 to 797 in mass-market brands. The study noted some especially impactful trends when it came to customers that have complimentary or prepaid maintenance programs. In mass-market brands, where complimentary maintenance programs are less common, the study found that buyers of prepaid maintenance jumped from 15% to 46% over the past 5 years.
The study shows that customers are gravitating towards the convenience of worry-free maintenance costs. According to Chris Sutton, senior director of the U.S. Automotive Retail Practice at J.D. Power, “Maintenance packages – whether they’re complimentary or paid for by the owners – create a long-term relationship between the customer and dealership which, when coupled with satisfying service experiences during that period, can have a very positive impact on loyalty rates.”
It is of note that Sutton’s key message is that customers must have a great experience for this trend to hold true. More than ever it is important that dealerships ensure a consistently excellent experience for the customer.
The study further revealed that “six of the top 10 key performance indicators for CSI involve service advisor-related best practices, including being focused on customer needs; providing helpful advice; and keeping the owner updated about the status of their vehicle.”
Customers today are getting used to instant, real-time information, whether it’s for tracking an online order status, watching a package’s delivery status, or getting in-depth information about a product or service prior to purchase. They get this information from the company they are doing business with in combination with reviews about the product, service and company.
Information is king in the eyes of the consumer. It is therefore imperative that service advisors have the ability to offer this type of in-depth information about vehicle service in a way that consumers truly understand. It makes all the difference between the customer taking the advice, or declining the service and going elsewhere. The ability to consistently produce the right information on demand, when the customer requests it, is something that dealerships will find more necessary as time passes.
The great news is that customers are gradually becoming more satisfied with dealer service in general. Also, through complimentary and prepaid maintenance programs, they’re showing that they are willing to be a loyal customer. The greatest disservice a dealership could ever do to itself would be to disregard that vote of confidence and fail to live up to the expectations of today’s customers.