Trust is Key to Customer Service Satisfaction in Japan Study

Taku Kimoto

Nearly half of vehicle owners in Japan say they visit the dealership where they purchased their vehicle for service needs, such as routine maintenance, shaken inspections*, oil changes, and repairs, according to our 2011 Japan Customer Service Index (CSI) Study, which is based on responses from 11,759 customers who have owned their vehicles between 15 and 50 months.

Yet, after three years, the percentage of owners who continue to visit the dealer for shaken inspections declines by 15 percentage points. The study finds that customers who continue to visit the dealership for routine maintenance and shaken inspections tend to base their decision on trust in the dealership, rather than price. These customers are more likely to indicate that they were introduced to the service advisor and asked if service was satisfactory compared with customers who visit non-dealer facilities.

Customer Service Satisfaction in Japan Improves by 3 Points

On an encouraging note, this year’s study determines that overall customer satisfaction with dealer service in Japan increases by 3 points, to 623 (on a 1,000-point scale) from 620 in 2010. As a whole, luxury, or premium, brands deliver a higher number of key service activities with higher levels of quality than do mass market brands. For instance, the greatest performance gap is between luxury and mass market brands related to offering the service practice of washing the vehicle or cleaning the vehicle interior.

Lexus Achieves Highest Service Satisfaction Score for 5th Straight Year

As in the past four years, Lexus ranks highest among the 16 brands included in the study, earning a score of 761. The premium Toyota Group brand is followed in the rankings by Audi, which achieves an index score of 683—up 33 points from 2010. Rounding out the top five brands in the rankings are: Mercedes-Benz (669); BMW (668); and Nissan (654).

It can be noted that the current plateau in new-vehicle sales in Japan has created challenging conditions in the after-sales service market, which makes it vital for dealers to build trust and lasting relationships with their customers. Communicating with customers prior to service visits, and also providing high-quality after-sales service, may translate into increased loyalty and recommendation rates, as well as higher satisfaction.Taku Kimoto, director at J.D. Power Asia Pacific, Tokyo

*Shaken inspections are performed to ensure that vehicles are properly maintained, safe to be on the road, and have not been illegally modified. These inspections are required every two to three years.

Note: The J.D. Power Asia Pacific 2011 Japan Customer Service Index (CSI) StudySM measures overall customer satisfaction with service performed at dealer facilities, based on five factors: service representative; service charge; service content; service system/process; and facility.


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