Six factors were considered in the survey, focusing on buyers' experiences with the new-car salesperson, the deal itself, delivery timing, delivery process, dealer facilities, and sales initiation. Each brand - rather than a specific dealership - was then given a satisfaction score out of 1000 points.
The inaugural J.D. Power Australia Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) study revealed that the appeal of an attractive deal resulted in an overall satisfaction score of 812, or about five points below the industry average, while satisfaction among customers influenced by the location of a dealership were even less satisfied in the long run (788). Some 20 per cent of respondents fell into this latter category.
By comparison, buyers that choose a dealer based on having an acquaintance that works there, or on the dealer having a good reputation, were overall more satisfied, with scores of 853 and 839 respectively.
“While it is important that customers receive a good deal from their dealer, the monetary savings they receive is momentary," said Mohit Arora, JD Power regional vice president.
"It is far more gratifying for the customer to have the support of a reliable sales dealer in what may be the beginning of a long-term relationship—a relationship that also benefits the dealer, as the customer may recommend or even buy again from the same dealership in the future.”
And, in a lesson to dealers and the brands they represent, highly satisfied customers - those that scored their experience over 924 - said they "definitely would" purchase from the same brand again and recommend that family and friends do the same.
Remarkably, though, 31 per cent of highly dissatisfied respondents said they would recommend that brand to others. Friends and family beware.
Another tip for dealers: go the extra mile. Buyers treated to a walkthrough of their new vehicle's features - before or after delivery - scored the dealer experience a significant 134 points higher than with those dealers that dust their hands and move on to the next potential customer. Some 15 per cent of respondents said they had not been properly introduced to their car's features and functions.
As for the brands themselves, Mazda ranked highest for new-vehicle sales satisfaction in Australia, with a score of 840 - comfortably above the industry average of 817.
The study surveyed 2477 people in Australia who purchased their vehicle between September 2015 and June 2016.
JD Power notes that Isuzu, Jeep, Kia, Land Rover, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Suzuki and Volvo were not included, due to insufficient sample size.