J.D. Power and Associates continued its courtship of Buick and Lexus in its latest scorecard for consumer satisfaction with dealer service departments. While J.D. passes out awards around like a teacher giving PARTICIPANT ribbons at an elementary school science fair, its consumer index is a decent way to track automotive trends. In this instance, that trend is continued improvement of American manufacturers. Well, most of them.
Fiat Chrysler should sincerely consider making a large contribution to J.D. Power so it can get out of last place in literally every single category.
Meanwhile, General Motors is on its best behavior with a score of 807 out of 1,000, an improvement over last year by a full 10 points thanks to Buick taking top honors (860 points) and its other brands scoring substantially above the industry average. Buick was followed by Mini, GMC, Chevrolet and Nissan in the mass-market brand rankings.
Lexus experienced a return to glory among premium brands after a three-year gap of only being “among the best.” Before that, Toyota’s luxury arm enjoyed five-consecutive years of top honors. Lexus’ score was 874, up five points from a year earlier.
Still, even the lowest-rated premium brands managed to score well above the industry average for mass-market autos. Land Rover, which received the worst consumer feedback, garnered a score of 828. For comparison, the non-premium label on the bottom rung of service department satisfaction came in with 739. That brand, as you probably guessed, was Fiat. The rest of FCA’s brood took their usual places near the bottom of the list, with Dodge performing the least offensively.
Possibly the most useful bit of data obtained from the index was what customers liked and didn’t like when interacting with service departments. Obviously, doing the work correctly was the big x-factor. Customers forced to bring in a vehicle a second time weren’t likely to forget it. But the problem area that most centers had the most trouble getting right the first time? Center consoles and radios.
Other elements — like service advisors using tablets instead of paper — made customers feel better about the experience, and franchised dealerships were preferred to independent service shops primarily due to amenities offered, comfort of waiting areas, and overall cleanliness.
The study measured customer satisfaction of owners and lessees of 2012 to 2016 model-year vehicles serviced at franchised dealerships and independent service centers. J.D. Power surveyed more than 70,000 customers between October and December of 2016 for the latest study. The scores measure quality of service, performance of service advisers, service initiation, service facility and vehicle pick-up. Service quality was the most-improved category with a score of 809, up 27 points from 2015.
[Image: General Motors]