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Auto Dealer Service Departments Make Best of Tough Situation, J.D. Power Finds


Even with the pandemic and people driving less, dealer service visits in the United States were only down six per cent from the previous year and overall satisfaction increases to 847 (on a 1,000-point scale) from 837 a year ago, according to the J.D. Power 2021 Customer Service Index (CSI) Study. Overall satisfaction also increases for a sixth consecutive year.

“When one- to three-year-old vehicles required service in 2020, dealers captured an even greater share of service visits, which is the highest level in at least five years,” said Chris Sutton, vice-president of automotive retail at J.D. Power. “Dealerships made the most out of a disruptively bad situation.

“Completing work right the first time, as well as focusing on customers’ needs, play significant roles in satisfaction—and dealers are nailing these key performance indicators nearly 100 per cent of the time. By continuing to provide an exceptional service experience, dealers have an opportunity to seize an even greater share of the market. It’s notable, too, that while service was less frequent in 2020, customers responded very well to convenience services such as vehicle pick-up and drop-off at their home.”

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 automotive brands sold in the United States, which is based on the combined scores of five different measures that comprise the vehicle owner service experience. These measures are (in order of importance) service quality (29 per cent); service facility (19 per cent); service initiation (18 per cent); service advisor (18 per cent); and vehicle pick-up (16 per cent).

Following are key findings of the 2021 study: