Canadians apparently still prefer to take their vehicles for service at aftermarket shops, according to the latest research from industry analyst firm J.D. Power, though luxury branded dealerships scored highest in the study.
The J.D. Power 2017 Canadian Customer Service Index Long-Term (CSI-LT) Study has shown that non-dealer auto service providers outrank dealership service departments in areas of service initiation, service advisor, vehicle pick-up, service quality and overall satisfaction, though dealers do get the nod in providing a better facility experience, and their comparative scores improved year over year, showing that they are gaining ground in customer satisfaction.
“Customer satisfaction is at the core of every viable business and the automotive service market is no exception,” says J.D. Ney, senior manager of the Canadian automotive practice at J.D. Power. “The study clearly demonstrates the importance of maintaining high satisfaction levels in retaining loyal customers who also act as brand ambassadors and recommend their vehicle service provider. The higher the customer satisfaction score, the higher the likelihood of the vehicle owner returning to the facility for paid work. For auto service providers, this can lead to hundreds, if not thousands of additional service customers annually.”
In the rankings, though, the top three spots were captured by three luxury branded dealerships — Lexus (808.5 out of 1,000 points), Mercedes-Benz (800.5) and Audi (793.4) — with NAPA Autopro franchises coming in fourth (790.4) ahead of VW dealerships (788.4).
Filling out the top 10, respectively, were GM dealerships (774.3), Jiffy Lubes (771.3), Acura dealerships (770.3), Honda dealerships (768.3) and Toyota Leaderships (766.3), with the Great Canadian Oil Change (764.3) sneaking in above the industry average (764.3).
According to the study, exceptional customer service means return visits, with 93% of respondents saying they would return to aftermarket shops who provided exceptional service (those scoring 900 points or more on a scale of 1000), versus 85% who said they would return to dealerships who provided the same level of service. Additionally, just over half of respondents (58%) said they would return to dealerships offering outstanding service (751-900 points), while 69% said they would return to the same aftermarket shop.
Also of interest is that service advisors at aftermarket shops were judged to provide better service than their counterparts at dealerships, with customers saying the former outperformed the latter in areas of courtesy (8.12 out of 10, vs. 7.99), knowledge (8.03 vs. 7.81), responsiveness (7.96 vs. 7.77), and thoroughness of service explanation (7.8 vs. 7.63).
“If auto service providers want to improve their business performance, they should pay closer attention to the front desk,” said Ney. “Service advisors play a critical role in driving a positive customer experience as they have the most interaction and visibility to the customer. Equipping service advisors with the right tools, training and knowledge can help auto service shops gain this competitive advantage that drives satisfied and returning clients.”
The study also found that telephoning is still the preferred method of booking service appointments (82% calling in to dealerships and 65% doing so for aftermarket shops), and 17% of customers said they would like to be updated on their vehicle repairs via text message, though just 3% of dealerships do so and only 1% of aftermarket shops.
Customers also like it when a tablet is used in the service process, which is being adopted by 20% of dealerships and 16% of aftermarket shops.
The J.D. Power CSI-LT measures satisfaction with service and intended loyalty among owners of vehicles 4-12 years old. It surveyed 11,430 Canadian owners in March-June 2017 on their experiences during warranty and non-warranty service visits at dealerships and aftermarket shops, and asked them to rank their visit on service initiation, quality, advisor and facility, as well as at vehicle pick-up.