By on March 16, 2017

Buick Grille Logo Emblem, Image: General Motors

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]

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67 Comments on “J.D. Power Showers Buick and Lexus With Praise Over Service Satisfaction...”


  • avatar
    subefan

    When you write a story about a survey like this the survey should have a clickable link.
    Thanks!

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Buick owners don’t go to the dealership. Aside from free oil changes and occasional recall there is not an reason to go there. And we are going there for something free, who wouldn’t be hapoy?

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    In January, my 88 year old mother and I visited a Buick/GMC dealer (Patriot Buick/GMC in Boyertown, PA) to see what they had. My mother was itching to replace her 2004 Crown Vic with something new.
    She ended up buying a leftover 2016 loaded Encore Sport for a great price.
    I just want to say that the Buick sales experience at this small dealership was way above my expectations. Even the F&I guy knew when to let well enough alone on a cash deal with no trade. That was refreshing.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      There are dealers out there that appreciate the need to treat customers right, so they get repeat customers.

      As much as we like to bash dealers, we should really put as much effort into pointing out the good ones. They deserve business.

      For me, Boyer Ford Trucks in MN has an exceptional used car department. The purchase was as straightforward as buying a toaster. Spent maybe 10 minutes with the F&I person.

    • 0 avatar
      thornmark

      Your mother is way too young for a Buick – which is the reality OLDsmobile.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Patriot in PA is definitely a unique dealership today. We traveled 400+ miles to pick up a Buick Envision and wished I could have stayed and chatted cars with the guys. Very good group to work with.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    The only significant factor in my ranking of your service: are you giving me a loaner car? If yes, full points. Extra credit if you encourage me to keep it for the weekend. If no, F this, I’m going elsewhere.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      This is GM’s biggest strength lately. They force the dealers to hand out loaner cars pretty much just like Lexus. The Chevrolet dealer I just bought my Silverado from will even bring the loaner to me, also like Lexus. This is better than some of the Mercedes dealers that I worked for. They only had the minimum amount of loaners. And they always wanted them back quickly. It doesn’t make sense not to do it, because the leases on loaners are very heavily subsided by the manufacturers. They end up making more money on them when they sell them then a new car that with no miles.

  • avatar
    Ianw33

    Honest question,

    What is happening at Buick that is not happening at the other GM offerings?

    This study and the consumer reports story seem reflect quite well for Buick. The other GM makes….not so much

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Good question, and I’ll posit one possible answer.

      A large proportion of Buick buyers are elderly. Therefore:

      1) Having owned truly unreliable cars back in the malaise era, they probably know that a niggling problem with their Buick doesn’t make it “unreliable” per se.

      2) Someone who’s retired doesn’t necessarily need his car for work every day. Plus, the wifey (or hubby) has a car too. Thus, service issues become less life-impacting.

      3) The key to providing old folks with service is simple: service them. Anticipate their needs. Treat them with respect. Take the time to talk to them. Rinse and repeat. Not only will they love it, they’ll actually let you do it. Believe it or not, sometimes it’s harder to do business with younger customers because they don’t have the time. Thus, the more you try to “take care of them,” the more anxious they’ll get about the time factor. Bizarre but true.

      • 0 avatar
        Ianw33

        A nice, thought out response. I dig it

        thanks!

      • 0 avatar
        Middle-Aged Miata Man

        That is fantastic reasoning. I’ll bet it’s spot-on, too.

      • 0 avatar
        86er

        I thought the average age of Buick owners had come down quite a bit? I remember reading that here.

        • 0 avatar
          Middle-Aged Miata Man

          I thought so, too… but the most recent data I can find is from 2015, which notes the average Buick owner’s age dropped by a single year (from 60 to 59) since 2010.

          http://www.chicagotribune.com/classified/automotive/sc-cons-0528-autocover-buick-lexus-youth-20150522-story.html

          I think it’s fair to posit that Buick owners, while not at death’s door, are likely accustomed to a more leisurely lifestyle.

      • 0 avatar
        jalop1991

        “A large proportion of Buick buyers are elderly.”

        Buick has always been toward the top of the list, and you’ll never convince me that this isn’t 100% the reason.

        Old people drive 1000 miles a year. The car doesn’t have time to break. And like you say, what’s an impossible first-world problem to an impatient boomer or millenial is an “eh” to someone who came through WWII and who lived through cars of the 50s and 60s.

        The cars aren’t any different than any other GM car. Nothing to see here. Move along.

        • 0 avatar
          whitworth

          “Old people drive 1000 miles a year. The car doesn’t have time to break.”

          _______

          That’s been my theory for quite some time why brands like Buick do well in quality surveys.

          Also, in my experience, senior citizens over do it in the maintenance dept.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          +1, whitworth and jalop

          Clearly Buick’s doing something right, but the clientele probably helps.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Since when is an average buyer age of 55, “elderly.”

        My God man, the average Toyota buyer is “51.”

        This myth of Buick is the choice of blue hairs is about a decade out of date.

      • 0 avatar
        S2k Chris

        “Believe it or not, sometimes it’s harder to do business with younger customers because they don’t have the time. Thus, the more you try to “take care of them,” the more anxious they’ll get about the time factor. Bizarre but true.”

        100% this. Give me the service I’m paying for, be polite, wash the car, and get out of my way. That’s it. I don’t need to spend 20 minutes with the tech going over everything with me after an oil change. Did you change the oil? Great. Anything else falling off the car? No? Then shut up and give me my keys so I can get out of here. Thanks bye. And if you make the awkward spiel about surveys and crap I’m going to stand here silently and glare at you and make YOU feel awkward because it’s tedious and transparent and I don’t want to be sold to that way.

      • 0 avatar
        Corey Lewis

        You’ll get a great review from my grandma if you let her tell you an irrelevant story and seem interested.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        Nothing besides free oil changes happening at Buick dealerships. Why not cone and go happy, :)

    • 0 avatar
      slap

      Most of Buick’s product line has been out for a number of years so it has had plenty of time to get the bugs out.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I’m feeling really envious, having just bought a Lincoln. Their service—as well as that of Ford—is terrible. Perhaps I should have just gone to the Lexus store next door and paid an extra $10K for a GS.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Didn’t I recall you buying a used Lincoln?

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      Is Lincoln service that bad? Is Ford service that bad?

      Maybe you misstated. Maybe it’s a specific dealer(s) that’s terrible. The Ford / Lincoln dealer I use has exceptional service. Their biggest problem is that people like them so much, it can sometimes be difficult to get an appointment.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        I mean, make no mistake, this dealer is terrible, but even when you call Lincoln about it, they seem to be very apathetic.

        • 0 avatar
          TMA1

          This doesn’t surprise me. Most Lincolns are sold in the same showrooms as Fords, and Ford has the worst dealers in my experience.

          I did recently discover a stand alone Lincoln dealer in my area, inexplicably set in a rather impoverished area. I wonder what the service is like there. Probably not great, considering that the stock that can be seen from the road makes it look like a used car dealership.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Lexus keeps its dealer network tight and that may have good and bad effects.

    I’ve had two mediocre-at-best interactions with my local Lexus dealer’s service department. The dealer is one of only two in the Seattle metro area and is huge and extremely busy. Both times, the issues were because the department was just too busy to take care of the customers in a timely manner. The first time, I waited 20 minutes for someone to be able to pull my car out front after paying for the completed service. The second time, I waited at the parts counter almost half an hour because parts guy #1 had been pressed into emergency shuttle duty and parts guy #2 was running cars around the lot.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      I think the issue we have in the Puget Sound area is between Microsoft, Amazon, and a growing Google presence, you have a lot of people who want a Lexus, Audi, BMW, Infiniti, Mercedes and buy a lot of the lease special versions. There knowledge and care about cars would make them better suited to be a Corolla buyer, but driving a Corolla doesn’t say, I’m new to Seattle with a 6-digit job at a tech company BOOM! There it is.

      They’re taken advantage of from the minute they walk into the showroom. It makes the buying experience at most Bellevue area dealers in particular a big ball of suck. The we don’t care because we don’t have to because some other idiot is ready to pay full sticker just because permeates the entire operation, including service.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        It won’t surprise you that the dealer in question is Lexus of Bellevue.

        I also made them an offer on a used RX450h once (consistent with the national market, but well below their asking price) and was more or less laughed at.

        • 0 avatar
          05lgt

          is it so far to pdx that you have to put up with this? For necessary service, sure… but a purchase?

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            It is a 3 hr drive and then you have the hassle of registration and the sales tax that you may not be able to roll into the loan. But there is one in Fife that isn’t that far away.

          • 0 avatar
            05lgt

            Scoutdude, I just hate rewarding that kind of behavior. Any method to correct the economic signal that this is OK. They seem to need to be forced to bring on 2 more employees…. maybe Big L will be the stick.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            I’m not going to spend six hours round-trip driving to PDX for a navigation update or a new OEM battery.

  • avatar
    JMII

    My guess on why Buick ranks high: so few Buicks are sold (compared to other makes) that when one shows up for service a team of people who were previously bored to death are readily available to help out. I noticed the same thing at our local Volvo / Lincoln combo dealership back when we had a Volvo. They were super nice and seemed kind of overstaffed for small dealership. They had a dedicated receptionist and driver in the service area always ready to go it seemed. Unfortunately their prices were insane and our Volvo spent way too much time up on the lift for various fixes. In comparison your average Chevy or Ford dealer is not going to be a good experience because they are actually ummm BUSY servicing many models along with free oil changes for those recently sold vehicles.

    As for independent service places – they may have crappy waiting areas featuring a TV that still has rabbit ears but I get an honest answer from a guy that was actually wrenching on my car himself just 10 minutes ago. Dirty hands and a well worn parts counter are good things in my book. Prices are also more reasonable, plus explanations of what broke and how they fixed are provided without insults. The dealer on the other hand just hands you a never ending invoice listing things like “tested battery” (for a tire issue?) and explains how they are so awesome they even washed your car so you need to make sure we get a “10” on this BS survey despite the fact that your car smells like cigarettes and cheeseburgers now.

    • 0 avatar
      OldManPants

      “crappy waiting areas featuring a TV that still has rabbit ears”

      I want silence so I can effing read. I don’t want a blaring TV in ANY waiting room. Waiting rooms are where I hate My Fellow Americans the hardest.

      HOW do people become so inured and oblivious to the garish, Popsicle-colored, 90-decibel shouting match and assault-music that is waiting room TV?

      I’d OD on endorphins if I could pump 12-gauge rounds into every goddamn one of them.

      • 0 avatar
        CaddyDaddy

        Old Man Rants: Hey there ol’ Chum, your overly complicated manor of prose was something I could avoid or somewhat digest. Lately your style is lowering itself into the dark and depressing. Pumping a 12 gauge into people you dislike does not belong here on this site IMO. Jalopnik may be more your style in their comment section swamp.

        BTW, you would not like most of the planet outside our borders if loud omnipresent TV’s are not your thing.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      JMII: “so few Buicks are sold”

      I once worked for a dealership group with 30 dealerships. Our flagship store was a Buick (and GMC) store. They sold more cars than any of our other dealerships.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      With 230,000 units sold in North America, Buick outsells Acura, Infiniti, Lincoln, Audi…

  • avatar
    jalop1991

    The Buick dealer two miles from my house is one step away from a pawn shop on the wrong side of the tracks. (Ray Charles’s pawn shop in The Blues Brothers is a palace by comparison.)

    Whether that step is up or down, I haven’t yet determined.

    Not sure where these surveys are coming from.

  • avatar
    OldManPants

    Buicks are just plain pretty vehicles in a senior-approved, understated way.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    When I brought my C7 in for a recall, I have to say the dealership service department treated me very well. I waited for the repair (Fuel filler neck) and while they did have Old Man Pant’s requisite loud TV, instead of reaching for a shotgun they gave me the remote to lower it. The surroundings were modest compared to Lexus, but they did have Starbucks coffee and Dunkin Munchkins available. The place was clean and comfortable and the Vette tech came out to show me the removed part and the plastic baffle inside that caused the recall. Car was returned clean with no damn cigarette smell. I was very satisfied.

  • avatar
    whitworth

    I have to say I’ve had good experience for the most part at Lexus dealerships with the sales dept vs others. I just recently bought a new car, I went to an Infiniti dealership back to back and the difference was night and day.

    The LExus dealerships just seemed pretty quick and to the point and low pressure. The infiniti dealership was like every bad stereotype.

    But I honestly don’t really care all that much about the dealership experience, for me it’s all about the product itself.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I can’t speak for Buick, but the only dealer I’ve purchased from twice is a Kia dealer – a family-owned dedicated store that is part of a multi-brand business. The sales and service experience is very good, but they do have the annoying TV.

    That particular place is 12 miles from my house. There is another Kia dealer only 6 miles away, but after several interactions with their sales and service department I won’t go there again. Their poor reputation is well-known. They also handle Dodge/Ram at an adjacent store, which several years ago received the angry stares of a disgruntled truck customer with a picket sign who parked across the street from them every day for a week, exercising his right to free speech on a very busy roadway. That was awesome.

    But as whitworth said above ^^, I prefer not to see the dealership at all for service. My VW dealer service was great, but I was there every 3 months for unscheduled work. In that case, the product caused those nice people to lose my business.

    Alternately, I’ve experienced terrible product combined with terrible service (Honda), which makes it impossible for me to ever reconsider the dealer, and nearly impossible for me to reconsider the product.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I’ve started taking my GM vehicles back to the dealer for routine maintenance. In Puget Sound the delta between cost is minimal, the dealer by me has a quick lube center, I get a free car wash included, and the waiting area is – well quite frankly mind blowing. I couldn’t believe how nice it was when I went there out of desperation on a Saturday.

    A no-name Starbucks with any coffee drink you can imagine, breakfast items, sandwiches, free bottled water, fast WiFi comfortable chairs, multiple flat screens with the volume very low, bright, clean, and you can see through a glass wall right into the service department. Wait, this is a Chevy, Mazda, Kia dealer?!?!

  • avatar
    Rday

    I am glad that Buick is doing well. Hope the rest of GM gets their act together. IMO most Buick drivrs are old farts like me but they have always been GM customers and the change in Buick has really impressed them For those of us that have been Toyota and Honda customers, we have become accustomed to excellent products with dealers that bend over backwards to take care of us. So we expect to be treated well and consider that just normal good business practices. Most Detroit customers i know and i don’t know that many any more, have been abused by the big three for many years and are shocked when they are treated well.
    I never want to go to my toyota dealer for anything and expect this to hold true on our new 2017 Rav hybrid and new 2017 Prius. This has been my experience for many years [since my first Prius in 2004] and if it changes i will be one pissed of customer and let everyone i know hear about it.
    So Bully for Buick.. i am excited for their customers and hope they keep up the good work. Maybe America can start building world class cars again and that will be great for our country.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    If anyone’s interested in why Lexus gets such stupid-good JD Power rankings, click the link for the local Lexus store in my area. This place is AMAZING. There’s even a fully staffed coffee bar on the second floor for service waiting, and a multi-level garage for indoor shopping. Sick. One of the few places I’ve ever been where the dealership was nicer than the car.

    http://www.kunilexusofgreenwoodvillage.com/Virtual-Tour

  • avatar
    2manycars

    My experience with GM several years ago was having them use an armed gang to raid my wallet on their behalf. After that mugging I’m certainly not going to voluntarily hand over any more money to GM, regardless of how good or bad their products may be.

  • avatar
    zoomzoomfan

    The local GM dealer here is very crooked (pushing “warranties” on every car that’s sold and then doing all they can to not honor them, upselling/charging way too much compared to book values when they know a customer doesn’t know the difference, etc.). But, there are some about 35-40 miles away that are good, honest people. They are also in tiny rural towns, which probably helps.

    It’s the same way with the Mazda dealer here. They’re crooks, plain and simple. Can’t trust them to do any maintenance or recall work without extra work being suddenly “required” because your car is broken in ways you never even dreamed of. That’s why when I bought my Mazda6, I went to the dealer in another town about 40 miles from here. I take it and my wife’s CX-5 there for oil changes/tire rotations, too. The 30 minute drive is worth it to me.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      Do we have the same Mazda dealership? Same thing always happened to me. Go in for one thing, get a long list of critical things that need to be fixed. Years later, it’s still fine.

      Stuff like that is why Mazda can’t sell the great cars they make. I honestly can’t think of any Mazda dealership in my area where I’d want to buy a new car.

      • 0 avatar
        zoomzoomfan

        I found a good one. It’s just 40 miles away from me. But it is a Mazda/Kia/Volvo dealer. The Volvo side makes them keep things nice, I assume. But Mazda harps me about surveys every time I go there and if anything wasn’t perfect, they reach out immediately.

        The dealer here is a Ford/Lincoln/Mazda dealer. They only sell Mazdas because of back when Ford owned a controlling stake in them. Honestly, they’re probably pretty close to not selling the brand anymore. They certainly don’t want to. When my wife and I went there to get our CX-5 in fall of 2012, they did everything they could to get us into an Escape instead. They also keep about 6-7 Mazdas on their lot and about 70-80 Fords. And, the two or three times I attempted to get our Mazdas (either the CX-5 or my old Mazda3) serviced there, they had NO Idea what they were doing nor did they keep any Mazda parts in stock.

      • 0 avatar

        The Japanese are more patient. They don’t cancel show selling car lines. For example, the Chrysler 200 out sold the Mazda 6 by nearly a 3 to 1 margin in 2015, and yet Chrysler still cancelled the 200. This may explain why the Japanese are at least 5 years ahead of Detroit in automotive engineering. They let their cars find a market and gradually improve them.

  • avatar
    Corey Lewis

    Be interesting to see the difference in service scores from Chevy/Buick/GMC/Cadillac lots as opposed to Buick/GMC only.

  • avatar
    lot9

    My observations among my senior friends..may surprise some younger folks…

    I have quite a few senior friends, retired and other wise, and they drive lots of miles each year.

    Just look at some retirement parks and many of the fraternity clubs parking lots.

    Vehicles get like 40 to 60k miles yearly, all across this nation, many trips to see kids scattered all over this nation. Going to dances and get together with friends. Think nothing in jumping into auto and driving for days, on each trips..

    And buy autos every year two years or less.

    All the hassle with the airlines, makes more want to drive each year.

    Many drive GM vehicles and some retired from GM… Buick are very popular and reliable.

    See lots of GMC and Chevys among those owned.

    Some handicapped equipped.

    Some of the Ladies are driving Motor Homes.

    Would guess, more Big 2.5 vehicles than imports are among the makeup of autos
    owned.

    They are living the life, many of us will never see.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    It’s been 2.5 decades since I walked the lot as a shark, but I worked for a large sales group in Atlanta and we had all of the makes. I mostly worked out of the Toyota store, but occasionally we’d have to go “help” at one of the other places. Once, I spent a week selling at the Buick store, it was a different world compared to the Toyota store.

    At the Buick store, folks came in and had an idea of what they wanted and knew roughly what they would pay. The cars were pretty loaded, so there wasn’t the constant upselling like at the Toyota and Nissan stores. Yes, these folks were older and had good credit. It was much easier to sell there.

    When my Pontiac dealer became a Buick/GMC dealer the level of service got better than it had been. But it was a family owned dealer, which had a good reputation to start with. OTOH, we have a *lot* of GM dealers around here, they’re all vying for your business…

  • avatar

    Buicks are known for better servicing dealers. they are reliable, distinctively styled, ride comfortably, have low insurance costs, and good safety ratings.

    Wouldn’t You Really Rather Have One?

  • avatar

    I will buy a Buick when it becomes an American car. Current Buick’s are engineered by Opel and Daewoo and are designed by Australians. GM does not believe in hiring Americans for white collar jobs anymore.

    GM hates America.

  • avatar
    Pig Hater

    The problem here is Buick and Lexus owners can love and cherish their cars all they want but they’re still Buick and Lexus owners. To me, that’s like having somebody telling me that Nickelback and Adele are the greatest.


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