Satisfaction Surges if Dealers Use Mobile Devices to Enhance Sales Process

Chris Sutton

Chris Sutton

Satisfaction is highest among new-vehicle buyers who are presented with pricing/payment options on a computer screen or a tablet (833 on a 1,000-point scale) during the sales process, according to our 2013 U.S. Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) Study, which is based on responses from 29,040 new-vehicle buyers or lessees, who completed their transaction in April or May 2013.

Using technology continues to make a major difference in enhancing the buyer’s or lessee’s sales experience at the dealership. Specifically, when a dealership salesperson uses a tablet device during the sales process with new-vehicle buyers, satisfaction is 52 points higher on average (844) than when a salesperson does not use a tablet during the sales experience (792). Satisfaction with a salesperson using a computer printout (820) receives the next highest score, followed by verbal price quotes (792); and lastly, written figures (780).

Our 2013 U.S. SSI Study finds that tablets are proving to be particularly versatile and effective tools and may help maintain consistency during the sales process, while providing accessible and dynamic product information. Yet, we also see that tablet usage among dealership salespeople remains relatively limited—only 10% of dealership salespeople use these devices. On a positive note, that’s still up from 7% in 2012. Continue reading ›

Multiple Platforms, Screen Sizes Drive Major Changes in Automakers’ Websites

Arianne_Walker New

Arianne Walker

The explosion of tablet ownership among new-vehicle shoppers in 2013 and the different approaches that shoppers now use to access information during the new-vehicle shopping process is challenging automakers to improve website functionality across platforms, according to our 2013 Manufacturer Website Evaluations Study (MWES)–Wave 2.

Results in Wave 2 of the semiannual 2013 MWES find that tablet ownership has climbed by 145% from just 20% of new-vehicle shoppers in Wave 1 of the 2012 MWES, to nearly one-half (49%) of nearly 10,200 new-vehicle shoppers in Wave 2 of the 2013 MWES.

Among the tablet users, overall satisfaction with the usefulness of auto manufacturer websites during the shopping process remains nearly flat at 815 (on a 1,000-point scale) vs. 818 points in Wave 1 of the 2013 study. Average satisfaction with automakers’ websites by desktop PC users is slightly higher—823—since most manufacturer websites are designed specifically for a desktop. Wave 2 finds that satisfaction among tablet users is lower in two of the four key measures: navigation and speed.* Continue reading ›

White Gains Favor in Early 2013 as Popular Vehicle Exterior Choice

tysonjominy Blog

Tyson Jominy

The Great Recession is over* and the U.S. economy’s slow but reasonably stable return to health may have had a slight impact on the change in exterior color choices among new-vehicle buyers. Neutral color choices still dominate: black, white, silver and gray. But white has gained favor from a year ago, at the expense of other choices—especially in the premium or luxury sales mix.

Although black (21.6%) remains the most popular exterior paint color choice for all model-year new vehicles purchased in the first four months of 2013, white (20.8%) has made inroads this year in comparison to the same 4-month period of 2012, according to Power Information Network® (PIN) retail transaction data** from J.D. Power.

More than one in five new vehicles purchased or leased in the first four months of 2013 was black, and the same was true for white vehicles. However, the percentage of black new vehicles dipped 1.0 percentage points from 22.6% a year ago, while the percentage of vehicles selected with white exteriors rose by 1.5 percentage points from 19.3% in the first four months of 2012. Continue reading ›

British Brands Advance in UK Vehicle Ownership Satisfaction Study

Mark_Lendrich

Mark Lendrich

British automakers have made great strides in the past few years in terms of offering appealing product lines and improved service, which is something they’ve often struggled with in the past. Jaguar, for instance, ranks highest in vehicle ownership satisfaction for a second straight year, according to the 2013 UK Vehicle Ownership Satisfaction Study (VOSS) that is a collaborative effort produced by J.D. Power and What Car?, a website and magazine owned by the Haymarket Media Group in the UK.

In the UK, current forecasts predict that new-vehicle sales will increase nearly 18% during the next five years, according to analysis from our strategic partner LMC Automotive. This puts British brands in a beneficial position to retain current customers and attract new buyers.

The 2013 UK VOSS, which is based on 16,104 online evaluations by original vehicle owners in the UK after an average of two years of ownership, examines customer satisfaction with vehicle and dealer service, based on the evaluation of four key measures. The measures and their weights in the overall index are: vehicle appeal (31%), which includes performance, design, comfort and features; ownership costs (25%), which include fuel consumption, insurance and costs of service/repair; service satisfaction (22%); and vehicle quality and reliability (22%). Continue reading ›

Premium Brands Try Downsizing Strategy in India Market

Ammar Master

The market share of premium vehicles in India is miniscule. However, premium brand automakers are aiming to increase share by building smaller, locally built, lower-priced models. This trend towards downsizing is not new, but it is likely to be more pronounced in India, which is probably one of the most cost-conscious markets in the world. Also, it’s evident globally that luxury vehicle makers have been moving toward smaller-size models for a number of reasons.

Jonathan Poskitt, head of European Sales Forecasting at LMC Automotive, points out, “There are a few important reasons why premiums have been expanding into smaller segments. One has been that premium brands aim to incrementally increase market

share. To do this there was a renewed focus on smaller cars, both by premium brands and the wider market generally, when European Union CO2 legislation became more concrete late in the last decade.”

In addition to what Poskitt has mentioned, regulatory measures are also partly driving the need for more localization in India. In this year’s Budget 2013, India’s Finance Minister raised the import duty for luxury cars to 100%, from 75%. Continue reading ›

U.S. Auto Sales Reach Post-Great Recession High Mark in March

Salesperson and Couple at DealershipSales of new cars and light trucks in the United States may hit their best mark in March since before the start of the Great Recession in December 2007, despite news about the fiscal cliff and sequester in Washington, D.C. Economic news was more positive with better employment figures in March, which is giving car buyers renewed confidence.

 New-car shoppers continued to replace aging vehicles and took advantage of easier credit including low-interest-rate loans. A proliferation of new and refreshed models—including popular crossovers and large pickups—also enticed buyers into showrooms. Discounts on large pickup models that are being replaced by new 2014 models as well as a recovery in the housing sector helped prime the market for large pickups. It should also be noted that March typically is a strong month for the auto business.

 In early reports, J.D. Power’s Power Information Network® (PIN) and its strategic partner LMC Automotive report that automakers sold 1.45 million units in the third month of 2013. If sales are adjusted for one less selling day in March this year, deliveries rose 7.4% from March 2012, which translates to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 15.2 million units. Continue reading ›

APEAL Study: Premium, Non-Premium Brands Listen to Consumers

Raffi Festekjian

The bar continues to rise in terms of how gratifying a new vehicle is to own and drive, according to results in our 2012 U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study, which is based on evaluations of more than 80 vehicle attributes by more than 74,000 new-vehicle buyers and lessees during the first 90 days of ownership.

This year, the industry improves by 7 points to earn an overall index score of 788 (on a 1,000-point scale) vs. 781 in 2011. In comparison to past years’ results, the industry average also rises 18 points compared with our 2008 APEAL Study, and represents the largest gain since 2009.

Results across the board are good for the industry. Every one of the 10 vehicle attribute areas analyzed improves from 2011, with the greatest advance being observed in fuel economy. Interestingly, the downsizing trend that we have observed also has had an impact on owner satisfaction with the fuel economy of buyers’ new vehicles. Nearly one-half (47%) of owners say gas mileage was one of the most important factors in choosing their new vehicle, up from 40% in 2011, according to study results. Continue reading ›

Lexus Ranks Highest in Industry; Porsche 911 Records Fewest Problems Score

Patrick Snyder

Lexus is the most problem-free nameplate in the U.S. auto industry—with a score of 73 problems per 100 vehicles (PP100) in the J.D. Power and Associates 2012 U.S. Initial Quality StudySM (IQS). Among the top-performing nameplates, Jaguar posts the largest improvement in the study and ranks second in a tie with Porsche (75 PP100).

Cadillac (80 PP100) and Honda (83 PP100) round out the top five rank positions. In addition, Honda, which is the highest-ranking Non-Premium brand in the industry, has improved its initial quality score in each of the past four years. Also, Honda has ranked among the top 10 nameplates in the IQS since 2006. Ten additional brands receive scores that are better than the industry average. In rank order, they are: Acura, Infiniti, Toyota, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Mazda, GMC, Nissan, Ram and Chevrolet. Continue reading ›

UK Vehicle Owners Shop for Service; Jaguar Ranks Highest in Ownership Satisfaction

Vehicle owners in the United Kingdom are increasingly willing to shop around for service, as exhibited by the fact that aftermarket/independent service centers have increased their share of average total vehicle service visits to 39%—up 6 points from 2011, according to the 2012 UK Vehicle Ownership Satisfaction Study (VOSS). In contrast, authorized dealer service centers are losing share of service visits—down 5 points from 2011 to 61%.

The aftermarket/independent service centers have ramped up their efforts to expand and improve services. Additionally, these independent service centers are focusing on retail maintenance advertising and are creating more services to attract customers, including offering extended weekend hours and vehicle pick-up and vehicle delivery assistance. Continue reading ›

Four Auto Brands Recognized as J.D. Power 2012 Customer Service Champions

Gina Pingitore

Four automotive nameplates—Cadillac, Jaguar, Lexus and MINI—are among 50 brands that stand out in customer service excellence this year and are recognized as 2012 J.D. Power 2012 Customer Service Champions in the second annual cross-industry special report, “Beyond Satisfaction: Brands that Deliver Service Excellence to Maximize Business Results.”

To be identified as a J.D. Power Customer Service Champion, each of the auto brands had to achieve among the highest customer satisfaction levels in their own industry, as well as across multiple industries, in five key areas (the J.D. Power 5Ps) that include Presentation, Price, Process, Product and People. These drivers of excellence* in customer satisfaction are proven to influence key outcomes during the purchase and post-purchase (vehicle service) experiences.

Service Excellence Hinges More on People than on Price

It’s noteworthy that since the onset of the recession in 2008, the importance of using People to ensure real-time response, personalized service and problem resolution continues to be more important than Price as a driver of satisfaction.While value for the price paid is still important, it’s the service experience delivered by an organization’s people that can truly differentiate a brand and foster customer loyalty and advocacy.

The four auto brands that stand out in customer service this year recognize the importance of People in the service experience. Each provides a level of sales service that is significantly above industry average, as identified in our 2011 Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) Study. It’s notable that each brand applies less sales pressure than the industry average, while at the same time thoroughly explaining the vehicle’s features to the new owner. Continue reading ›