After sales service determines dealership customer satisfaction and loyalty, according to the JD Power 2016 UK Customer Service Index (CSI) Study.

Among highly satisfied customers (overall scores of 900 or higher from 1,000), 92% said they "definitely" would return to the same service facility for future warranty service work and 83% said they "definitely" would return for future paid service work. When satisfaction slipped (800-899), intended loyalty dropped to 74% for warranty service and 58% for paid service.

According to the study, 78% of customers who were highly satisfied with their service experience said they "definitely" would purchase or lease their next new vehicle from the servicing dealership. When service satisfaction drops to 800-899, intended purchase loyalty dipped to 44% and tumbled to 23% when satisfaction is between 600 and 799.

Other findings:

  • Service advisor can make or break satisfaction: Greeting customers immediately upon their arrival can improve service satisfaction by as much as 48 points yet 61% of customers indicated they had to wait. When the service advisor knows the vehicle history and the customer says the service advisor is completely focused on their needs, service satisfaction can increase by as much as 46 and 56 points, respectively. Additionally, while only 34% of customers indicated their service advisor used a tablet during their service visit, overall satisfaction can increase by as much as 31 points if the advisor uses a device.
  • Pick-up process is important: Service customers in the UK spent an average of 9 minutes to finish paperwork and pick up vehicles after maintenance or repairs. Overall satisfaction was highest (778) among the 53% of service customers who indicated the process took a maximum of five minutes. Satisfaction dropped to 750 among the 28% who waited six to 10 minutes and dipped to 714 among the 9% delayed 11 to 15 minutes.
  • Transparency on work provided and cost is valued: Overall satisfaction averaged 742 among the 81% of customers who received an explanation of the charges after service was completed, compared with 653 who did not. Similarly, overall satisfaction was 741 among the 84% who received an explanation compared with 637 who didn't.

Satisfaction and brand rankings

Overall customer satisfaction with dealer service, based solely on the first three years of ownership [the most common warranty period here in the UK – ed], averaged 761 in the premium brand segment in 2016, the same as in 2015, and 744 in the volume brand segment, up from 737.

Mercedes-Benz ranked highest among premium brands, with a score of 774, an 18-point improvement from fourth in 2015. Land Rover (773) and Audi (761) followed.

Toyota ranked highest among volume brands, with 776, a 17-point improvement from 2015.  Honda (775), Kia (765), Mini (757) and Suzuki (753) were next.

"When auto dealerships manage to get the service department's customer service equation right, they earn incredibly loyal customers," said Axel Sprenger, JDP's senior director of European automotive operations. "The service event is also instrumental in driving sales as it is likely the most recent experience the customer has had at the dealer prior to shopping for a new vehicle."

The study, in only its second year, measures UK customer satisfaction with service at a franchised dealer facility for maintenance and repair work by examining five measures: service quality (26%); service initiation (23%); service advisor (19%); vehicle pick-up (17%); and service facility (16%).

It was based on 8,478 respondents who registered their new vehicle between February 2013 and April 2015 questioned in February-April 2016.