BEIJING –- Volkswagen group subsidiary Audi ranked first in the J.D. Power and Associates 2006 China customer satisfaction survey.
The study measures how happy customers are with an automaker's aftersales service after 12 to 18 months of ownership.
Audi China spokeswoman Frances Yu said the German brand's years of experience in China and diligent monitoring of its services gave Audi the winning edge.
Audi began assembling cars in China in 1998. It now has 121 dealerships in 85 cities nationwide.
Every year Audi holds a competition among its dealers to measure service and attitude, Yu says. The winners earn higher sales margins.
Technicians from the top three China dealerships participated in a worldwide competition measuring their skill and service. A Chinese technician took third place, Yu says.
Aftersales service is a top consideration in a Chinese consumer's initial purchase decision, says Mei Songlin, deputy general manager of J.D. Powers China operations.
Chinese consumers are becoming more demanding, Mei says. Dealerships had to add additional services to achieve the same customer satisfaction score in the 2006 study as in the previous year's study.
Says Mei: "We haven't seen such a [fast] pace of change in other markets. Generally, customer expectations in the US and Europe are predictable, but here customer expectations and needs are much less predictable."
Audi got 834 points in the study. The top score is 1,000. Nissan was No. 2, just 20 points behind Audi.
Shanghai General Motors placed third, followed by FAW-Mazda, Hyundai, Ford Motor and Shanghai Volkswagen.
Among the categories rated in the study are: problems experienced; friendliness of service; service delivery and quality; and in-service experience. Problems experienced was the top concern of car buyers, followed by friendliness of service.