Digital Communications Top Auto Service Customers’ Satisfaction Ratings

In your vehicle service department, are you communicating with customers how they want, or are you still dictating to customers what you want? The answer could make a surprising difference in what your customers think of you.

According to the new J.D. Power 2019 Customer Service Index (CSI) Study, customer satisfaction scores tend to increase when car dealership service departments use customers’ preferred methods of communication. That’s the good news. The bad news is that dealerships are not regularly doing so.

Customers from all age groups said they want an all-digital experience when it comes to communicating with auto service providers. They want to schedule service via the internet and communicate with the dealer through text messages, rather than telephone calls. Service providers that did include all-digital communications – even down to service technicians using tablets – were rated 75 points higher (on a point scale of 1,000) than those that did not.

“Service customers want the convenience that technology offers them,” said Chris Sutton, Vice President, U.S. Automotive Retail Practice at J.D. Power, in a statement. “For example, 34 percent of customers indicate they prefer to communicate via text message—but this only occurs nine percent of the time! There’s no reason why this isn’t a more widely adopted practice across the industry. Dealers have easy access to these tools, so they don’t have to reinvent the wheel.”

Customers believe that digital technology improves efficiency and ease of communications. It’s also true that the more satisfied a customer is with their overall service experience, the more likely they are to return to the dealership for service and to recommend the dealership either in person or on social media.

“Customers now expect technology to enable more efficient interaction with businesses—and that includes dealers,” said Sutton.

The study measures satisfaction with service at a franchised dealer or independent service facility for maintenance or repair work among owners and lessees of one-to three-year-old vehicles. It also provides a numerical index ranking of the highest-performing U.S. automotive brands, which is based on the combined scores of five different measures that comprise the vehicle owner service experience.

The five dealers with the highest customer satisfaction scores included Porsche (893), Lexus (881), Cadillac (880), Infiniti (878) and Mercedes-Benz (870). Buick (857) ranked the highest in satisfaction with dealer service among mass market brands, followed by MINI (853), Mitsubishi (846), Chevrolet (845), GMC (840) and Toyota (840).