2020 was an unusual year for the auto industry. While it wreaked havoc all around, automotive retail and service shops observed some positive changes too. Most prominently, they noted a significant uptick in the customer satisfaction index (CSI). According to a 2021 study by J.D. Power, auto dealerships saw overall satisfaction scores increase to 847 (on a 1000-point scale). The overall score increased by 10 points from 837 in 2019. Read on as we discuss the key factors that helped drive up satisfaction scores and customer satisfaction benefits.
The J.D. Power study indicates that auto dealerships can focus on the following to improve customer satisfaction:
It appears that introducing online payment options can boost satisfaction by offering more convenience. Six percent of premium brands and one percent of mass-market brand owners used contactless payment options. However, as the study noted, pickup & delivery satisfaction appears to be highest among customers that use these options. The feature is particularly useful for premium customers as it allows them to make remote or online payments, from the convenience of home or office, without having to handle cash or checks.
Customers visiting dealerships and service shops also appear to enjoy express services. These services allow customers to get maintenance and repair work done more quickly, without compromising on the thoroughness normally expected. Per the study results, customers who did not utilize express services for auto maintenance did not report an increase in satisfaction. However, those who used this service reported a 10-point increase in customer satisfaction.
A separate study by J.D. Power focusing on Electric Vehicle Experience Ownership showed that battery-electric vehicle owners tend to assign lower satisfaction scores to service shops. Their service quality score tends to be 76 points lower than the average customer, and their overall satisfaction score is 69 points lower.
These vehicle owners require equal amounts of maintenance and repair work. The maintenance services provided are usually complex, and these vehicle owners are 2.5 times more likely to not receive the right type of service the first time around. As a result, they are unable to feel the type of satisfaction that average vehicle owners experience.
These vehicle owners offer a new challenge to auto dealers and service shops that can use this opportunity to identify different ways to deliver a better experience for these customers and cultivate a long-term relationship. Consider investing more in dealer service training to retain these customers or offering mobile service options.
Besides focusing on the features mentioned above, dealerships can also consider introducing digital service programs to improve satisfaction scores. MINI USA introduced the Invisible Service program in late 2019. It allows the brand’s service advisors to use instant messaging to communicate with customers and accept digital payments.
MINI’s parent company, BMW, also uses the platform to recommend necessary vehicle work, such as cleaning dirty air filters, replacing worn brakes, and removing damaged suspension parts. These videos allow the brand to build customer trust. They encourage customers to get the necessary repair work done and increase the number of repair orders. So far, the program has allowed MINI to:
The program also played a key role in helping MINI rank highest in customer satisfaction among mass-market brands.
Let’s take a look at the biggest customer satisfaction benefits and why auto dealerships should track their CSI:
One of the most significant customer satisfaction benefits is how it influences your brand image. Thanks to the internet, consumers have easy access to information and can easily look up a business online before choosing to use their services. If you have delivered exceptional service, your customers may take to online platforms and leave glowing reviews.
Conversely, unhappy customers will also share a review about their service experience online, and when new prospects come across such reviews, they are less likely to utilize your services. An increasing number of bad reviews can drive down sales and impact your bottom line.
Auto manufacturers also utilize customer feedback to determine the type of service quality a local dealership provides. Customer satisfaction scores allow these manufacturers to ensure a dealership treats a customer properly and services their repair and maintenance needs.
If customers are unhappy with a dealership, this can hurt a manufacturer’s sales. Manufacturers can lose millions of dollars if their dealerships have low CSI scores. It can drive down their prices, hurt product demand, and increase marketing expenditures.
On the other hand, a high satisfaction score can improve a manufacturer’s brand image and increase revenue. As a result, both dealerships and manufacturers place great emphasis on improving their customer experience.
Various customer satisfaction benefits can contribute to the long-term profitability of an auto dealership and service shop. Dealerships can improve their customer experience by offering online payment options, express service, and digital service programs. They can also address existing gaps, such as improving service quality and satisfaction for battery electric vehicle owners.
Focusing on these aspects can allow auto dealerships to elevate their brand image, lower customer acquisition cost, and increase their conversion rate. They can also establish mutually beneficial relationships with auto manufacturers. As mentioned earlier, these manufacturers monitor customer satisfaction scores to ensure they are working with reliable dealerships capable of treating their customers properly.
myKaarma is a mobile-first and desktop communication system that empowers auto dealerships. It allows them to communicate with their customers via digital platforms, set up online payments, arrange vehicle pickup & delivery, and more. We work with numerous dealerships and world-renowned brands such as MINI and Porsche.