According to findings from Roy Morgan's 50,000-person, single-source survey, these two Japanese brands take care of their owners better than rivals do.
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Lexus and Mazda cleaned up in the 2019 Roy Morgan Customer Satisfaction awards, based on findings from its single-source survey with a claimed sample size around 50,000 Australians.

Lexus won the ‘Best of the Best’ award, given to the company with the highest average satisfaction of all 41 category winners. The awards do not merely focus on automotive, but various other sectors as well.

So the Japanese luxury brand beat out other high achievers and category winners including Google Phone, Guardian Pharmacy, the RACT, Bank Australia, and First Choice Liquor.

Those surveyed who had dealt with Lexus gave the company a 96.8 per cent satisfaction score, and it topped the auto table for 11 out of 12 months during the year.

Lexus also won the Best of the Best award in 2017. It’s the third year in a row the top award has gone to a car brand out of all 41 categories, with Isuzu Ute winning the 2018 award.

Given Lexus also grew its local sales by 9.0 per cent to a record 9612 cars in a market where most auto brands went backwards, it counts as an even more worthy title.

Late last year the company launched capped-price servicing, while its other customer services include a service loan car delivered to your door, invitations to exclusive events, dinners and drive days, and additional benefits with "partner luxury hotels".

Meanwhile Mazda finished third in the Best of the Best award on 93.8 per cent, and won the Major Car Manufacturer of the year gong. Mazda sells 10 times more vehicles than Lexus, meaning more customers with potential grievances.

Roy Morgan also commended other car brands that performed “exceptionally well” including Isuzu Ute, Kia (in an all-time record sales year), and market sales leader Toyota.

“[Lexus] satisfied customers on an unprecedented level in 2019 with the car manufacturer achieving an average customer satisfaction rating of 96.8 per cent during the course of last year,” said Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine.

“Lexus’ average customer satisfaction is an improvement on the excellent performance of vehicle manufacturer Isuzu Ute a year ago which averaged 96.1 per cent in 2018.”

Lexus Australia CEO Scott Thompson thanked customers for their feedback and paid tribute to the dealers who were "instrumental in delivering an exceptional ownership experience".

“As the leader in luxury experience, Lexus is determined to continue to deliver new benchmarks in customer service and satisfaction including significant enhancements to our renowned Lexus Encore owner benefits program in 2020,” he said.

“For Lexus Encore, the best is yet to come – and this year we look forward to enhancing our offering with the addition of even more amazing experiences and valued services for owners of new and certified pre-owned Lexus vehicles."

Mazda Australia’s marketing director Alastair Doak added: “Roy Morgan’s independent research tells us that we’re on the right track.

“We’re pleased to have introduced some really exciting initiatives over the past couple of years including rapid [60-minute] Quick Smart servicing and Mazda Vision which involves technicians providing customers with a video report of the state of their car for ultimate service transparency.

“Mazda Australia’s commitment to constantly improving its customer service will see us soon kick off a guaranteed future value program for customers, Mazda Assured.

The company also noted that the result follows its similar success in JD Power’s Customer Service Satisfaction Awards in 2019, again as the leading brand in its class – for the fourth year in a row.

In a lesson of how to take such surveys with a grain of salt, in JD Power’s independent survey Audi ranked highest among the luxury brands. Mercedes-Benz ranked second and BMW third.

We also cannot overlook the fact Mazda Australia was taken to Federal Court by Australia’s peak consumer watchdog the ACCC for allegedly engaging in “unconscionable conduct” and making “false or misleading representations in its dealings with consumers” who bought new cars between 2013 and 2017.

At the time it was the fifth major car company to be taken to task by the ACCC in the previous four years.

The company has also recalled the new 'BP' Mazda 3 six times since June last year, though there's no suggestion that affected customers were not promptly taken care of.

Pictured: Previous-generation Mazda CX-5 and pre-update Lexus NX

How does the Roy Morgan survey work?

Respondents name the companies they deal with across a variety of categories and rate how satisfied they are with them. Monthly Customer Satisfaction winners are cited in each category throughout the year, with the final annual award going to the company with the most wins.

Responders rate each brand they deal with on a scale from ‘very satisfied’ to 'not at all satisfied', via various points in between.

The 50,000 overall annual responders are surveyed face-to-face in person or on FaceTime/Skype-type software, and findings are based on cumulative monthly rolling averages. Organisations must have a sample size of at least 100 customers from the annual field to count.