Customer Treatment Overshadows Price in New-Vehicle Sales Satisfaction

More than half (52%) of new-vehicle buyers indicate that dealer treatment was a major reason to purchase their new car or light truck from a specific dealer, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2010 U.S. Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) Study,SM which analyzes the new-vehicle purchase experience. Interestingly, the study finds that only 38% of buyers cite vehicle price, or the “deal,” as the reason for selecting their dealer.

In addition, once a new-vehicle buyer has selected a dealer, the ease with which the negotiation is completed to agree on the final vehicle price has the greatest influence on buyer satisfaction—surpassing the importance of fairness of the actual price paid, according to Jon Osborn, director of automotive research at J.D. Power and Associates.

“The process of working out the deal is the primary indicator of whether new-vehicle buyers have a satisfactory purchase experience,” Osborn said, noting, “While there are some buyers who enjoy the negotiation process, many find it to be the most unpleasant part of purchasing a new vehicle. It is particularly important for retailers to make this process as efficient and collaborative as possible, given its importance to overall satisfaction—working out the deal accounts for 33% of the index weight.”

The 2010 U.S. Sales Satisfaction (SSI) Study, which measures four factors of satisfaction (in order of importance or weight)—working out the deal; salesperson; delivery process; and dealership facility—to measure overall customer satisfaction with the new-vehicle purchase experience, is based on responses from 25,244 new-vehicle buyers who purchased or leased their new vehicle in May 2010.

A few findings from this year’s study are highlighted:

  • In the new-vehicle buying process, negotiating the deal takes the longest time (53 minutes on average) after selecting the vehicle.
  • Some 60% of new-vehicle buyers visit more than one dealership during the shopping process.
  • Although many dealers are rejected for not having the type of vehicle that buyers wanted to purchase, a significant percentage of buyers (18%) end their showroom visit mainly due to poor customer treatment by the dealership salespeople.
  • A majority (79%) of new-vehicle buyers use the Internet during their shopping process. Nearly one-fourth (24%) of buyers in 2010 submitted an online request for quote to a dealer, and were, on average, more satisfied with the negotiation process and price paid

J.D. Power Perspective: With new-vehicle retail sales remaining soft and manufacturers spending considerable amounts on incentives to get customers into showrooms, the value of prospects coming in to a dealership is extremely high. Dealers cannot afford to drive away customers through poor treatment. In addition, most of the rejecters go on to purchase a different brand of vehicle, meaning that both the individual dealer and the automaker lose out.—Jon Osborn, director of automotive research at J.D. Power and Associates

Jaguar Ranks Highest among All Brands for Providing Satisfying Sales Experience

  • Jaguar, for a third consecutive year, ranks highest among luxury brands in satisfying buyers with the new-vehicle buying experience, according to the 2010 Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) Study. Jaguar receives a score of 828 (on a 1,000-point scale) and performs especially well in the salesperson and working out the deal factors. Jaguar also ranks highest among all brands in the study.
  • Cadillac (819) and Mercedes-Benz (815) rank second and third, respectively, in the luxury brand segment rankings—the same rank positions each brand held in the 2009 study.
  • Lincoln improves the most from 2009 among luxury brands, moving from ranking sixth to ranking fourth in 2010.
  • The four remaining luxury brands that rank above the luxury segment average (798) are, respectively: Lexus, Land Rover, Porsche and BMW.
  • Among mass-market brands, Mini ranks highest (805) and performs better than all other non-premium brands in three of the four factors measured. Mini is followed by Mercury (795) and GMC (792) in the mass market segment rankings.
  • Other mass market brands to rank above the mass market segment average (751) are, respectively: Chevrolet, Buick, Ford, Hyundai, Chrysler, Suzuki and Kia.
  • Hyundai is the most improved mass market brand, moving from 16th place in the 2009 rankings to seventh in 2010. Chrysler also advances in SSI rankings to move from 15th place in 2009 to eighth in 2010.

For more details, please watch the video below and read the press release.

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