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Car dealers must 'close technology gap' to satisfy customers - JD Power

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Dealer service departments are not communicating with customers in the ways they expect, according to the latest JD Power Customer Service Index (CSI).

It found that sizable gaps exist between how customers prefer to schedule vehicle service appointments and receive service updates, and how dealers are actually scheduling and communicating with their customers.

According to JD Power, closing these technology usage gaps will enable dealerships to increase service and sales revenue, while simultaneously increasing customer satisfaction.

“Customers in younger generations are certainly affecting industry-wide behaviours when it comes to service experience expectations, and this will become more notable as they begin to represent a larger portion of the service business,” said Josh Halliburton, vice president and head of European operations at JD Power.

The research found that text message updates are likely to become the most preferred means of interaction among all generations within the next few years.

Currently, 31% of service customers indicate a preference to receive text message updates, but only 15% receive them.

The study also revealed that 26% of service customers prefer to schedule appointments via the internet, but only 17% are currently doing so.

The study, now in its fifth year, measures customer satisfaction with their service experience at a franchised dealer facility for maintenance or repair work among owners and lessees of one- to three-year-old vehicles.

It examines five measures: service quality (26%); service initiation (23%); service advisor (19%); vehicle pick-up (17%); and service facility (16%).

Overall satisfaction among premium brand vehicles has increased to 800 (on a 1,000-point scale) from 798 in 2018.

Satisfaction among volume brand vehicles increases to 786 from 779.

Audi ranks highest among the premium brands, while Suzuki ranks highest among volume brands.

The study revealed that customer satisfaction increases when service writers use a tablet in their service process and overall satisfaction is highest when tablets are used to provide cost estimates, show a menu of options and conduct multi-point inspections.

Customers who trust and ask service personnel to explain vehicle features and technology functions are more likely to accept additional recommended service work. When this work is accepted, average service revenue is £356 compared with an average of £198 when no recommendations are made.

Factors that increase customer trust include: the vehicle was ready when promised; work was completed right the first time; the service advisor knew the vehicle’s history; and an explanation of the charges was provided.

The survey also found that the most satisfied customers were the most loyal. Among service customers when overall satisfaction scores are 901 or higher, 83% say they “definitely will” recommend their dealer for service and 82% say they “definitely will” return for paid service work.

The 2019 UK CSI Study is based on data collected from 6,759 respondents who registered their new vehicle between November 2015 and January 2018. The study was fielded from November 2018 through January 2019.

JD Power 2019 premium brand satisfaction scores:

JD Power 2019 volume brand satisfaction scores:

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