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by Tim Beissmann

Jaguar has been awarded the highest honour by JD Power and Associates in its 2009 Sales Satisfaction Index study.

The study is a comprehensive analysis of the new vehicle purchase experience with overall customer satisfaction measured against five factors: dealership facility, salesperson, paperwork/finance process, delivery process and vehicle price.

Jaguar was awarded 898 out of a possible 1000 points in the Luxury Brands segment, taking the title for the second consecutive year and performing well in the salesperson and paperwork/finance process factors.

Cadillac was next on 893 points with Lexus and Mercedes-Benz (both 877) making up a tight podium and Jaguar’s sister-company Land Rover in fifth on 872.

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Jaguar Land Rover North America President, Gary Temple, said his dealers deserved all the praise for the result.

“The top goals of this organisation are to deliver world-class quality products to our customers with a world-class dealership sales and service experience.

“These high rankings out of 37 brands in the industry coupled with recent dependability and customer service accolades show all of our efforts towards these goals are paying off,” he said.

In the Mass Market Brands segment Mercury was awarded top spot with 867 points, narrowly beating home Smart (865) and Buick and Pontiac (864).

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Mitsubishi was by far the lowest ranked brand on 778 – 54 points below the industry average – while Audi made up the rear in the luxury segment.

JD Power director of automotive research, Jon Osborn, said despite an improvement of 12 percent over 2008, the effects of the difficult economic climate were evident.

“In this difficult economy, dealerships are working particularly hard to close sales, but need to be attentive to customers without exerting unwanted sales pressure.

“Nearly one in four buyers in 2009 reports experiencing sales pressure from their selling dealer,” he said.

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Osborn said that customer service and the buying experience were commonly overlooked by car manufacturers.

“With the billions of dollars that automakers spend designing, producing and marketing new vehicles, as well as in driving customers to showrooms, it is critical that potential buyers are not pushed out the dealer’s door because of a poor customer experience.

“Manufacturers and dealers should be concerned with the experiences of all shoppers, whether they purchase or not.

“From a buyer’s perspective, recollections of their shopping experience include not only the selling dealer, but also all of the other dealers they visited,” he said.

Of the 38 brands included in the study, 29 improved over 2008.

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The study also found that, on average, new car buyers shop at fewer than three dealerships, and 49 percent visit only the dealer from which they purchase.

Satisfaction scores among buyers who visited only the selling dealer (848, on average) were considerably higher than those of customers who visited more than one dealer (826).

Customers who had a particularly satisfying experience at the first dealer they visited were less likely to shop at other dealers.




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