DETROIT - New-vehicle customers who are satisfied with their treatment in the service department are likely to reward the dealership with repeat business.
Those who are not satisfied tend to move on, according to the 1998 J.D. Power and Associates Customer Satisfaction Study released last month.
Joe Ivers, director of customer service research at J.D. Power, said the survey indicates where consumers will go for service during and after the warranty period. He said these findings are crucial for dealers and manufacturers seeking new ways to ensure repeat business.
'We can predict where they'll go for repairs after the warranty ends and we can almost predict where they'll have their oil changed in the meanwhile,' said Ivers. 'Warranty claims are down for dealers, making them more dependent on customer-pay work.'
The study measures vehicle ownership satisfaction after one year of ownership. It considers vehicle quality and service satisfaction.
The report found that:
Of those customers who say they definitely would go back to the dealership for service, 55 percent say they would buy another vehicle from that store;
Among those who 'probably' would return for service, only 9 percent say they would buy a vehicle there;
Of those who 'probably' or 'definitely' would not go back for service, the repurchase intention drops to 3 or 4 percent.
Still, customer satisfaction is rising, Ivers said. The Power Customer Service Index industry average is 146, up from 141 last year.
'When the study was launched in 1986 the industry average was 100,' Ivers said. 'Virtually every manufacturer is over the 100 mark. That tells us that the industry has moved a lot.'
Lexus and Infiniti have the top two spots again this year. Saturn is third, having moved up from seventh last year; and Jaguar is fourth, up from sixth.