Japanese rivals Toyota and Honda have tied for top spot against 10 other brands in the third annual JD Power Asia Pacific Australia Customer Service Index (CSI) Study released today.
The 2012 study measures the overall satisfaction with vehicle service experience of 4300 vehicle owners who purchased a new vehicle between August 2007 and August 2012, and had their vehicle serviced at authorised service centres between August 2011 and August 2012.
Vehicle service experience satisfaction was measured on a 1000-point scale, with results based on five factors including service quality, vehicle pick-up, service advisor, service initiation and service facility.
Mazda, at 801, finished above this year’s 791 overall customer satisfaction average – a two-point decrease on 2011, which JD Power suggests is the result of declines in the scores for quality (down five points), service advisor (down eight points) and service facility (down six points).
Mitsubishi equalled the industry average while Kia (784), Hyundai (783), Holden (779), Ford (775), Nissan (767), and Suzuki (764) all fell below the line. Volkswagen was the worst performer with a score of 757.
The study found proactive communication with vehicle owners during the pre-service process had a significant impact on vehicle service experience satisfaction overall, creating a highly satisfying overall service experience.
Satisfaction increased by 105 points when vehicle owners were given estimates on service completion times, compared with those who were not, and 40 points when vehicle owners were notified by dealerships when their vehicles required services, compared with vehicle owners who were not.
JD Power Asia Pacific executive director Mohit Arora said proactive communication during pre-service helped pave the way for a highly satisfying vehicle owner experience.
"Owners prefer to be updated by the network on their service due dates, as well advised during vehicle drop-off of the time to pick up the vehicle," Arora said.
"These simple steps help to create a positive first impression about the network's ability to deliver a quality after-sales experience."
The study also found that those vehicle owners who were highly satisfied with their dealer's overall service performance had higher levels of loyalty and advocacy toward both the specific dealership as well as the manufacturer brand.
Among vehicle owners who were highly satisfied – gave satisfaction scores above 895 – 81 per cent said they "definitely would" revisit their service dealer for post-warranty service. This is in stark contrast to the 12 per cent of highly dissatisfied customers – satisfaction scores below 713 – who said they felt the same.
Follow-on business for brands was also influenced with 69 per cent of highly satisfied customers saying they "definitely would" recommend their make to friends and family, compared with four per cent of highly dissatisfied customers.