The percentage of consumers in Taiwan who have their vehicles serviced at aftermarket facilities rather than at dealerships has dropped while customer satisfaction with automotive dealer service has increased significantly, according to the JD Power Asia Pacific 2003 Taiwan Customer Satisfaction Index Study released on Monday.

The study, now in its sixth year, finds that the defection rate of consumers who choose aftermarket facilities over dealerships for maintenance and repair service has dropped to 23%— down from 26% in 2002.

“Although it may be difficult for authorised dealers to compete with aftermarket facilities on price, they can reduce the defection rate by providing better services,” said Jill See, country manager at JD Power Asia Pacific Singapore. “The study finds that among customers who rate their dealership below 700 on CSI, 32% indicate that they have defected to aftermarket facilities. In contrast, only 15% of customers who rate their dealership above 900 have defected.”

The industry records a 32-point improvement in customer satisfaction with service at authorised dealerships over 2002, with 12 out of 14 ranked makes showing year-over-year improvements.

Lexus ranks highest in customer satisfaction for automotive dealer service in Taiwan for the fifth consecutive year with a CSI score of 917—an impressive 35-point improvement over 2002. Lexus also leads in all seven factors that measure customer satisfaction with dealership service. In order of importance, these are: problems experienced, user-friendly service, service quality, service delivery, service initiation, service advisor and in-service experience.

“Lexus sets the industry benchmark by exceeding the 900-point threshold in CSI,” said See.

“Lexus’s CSI performance is driven by its ability to deliver consistent, quality performance throughout all phases of the service experience.”

Toyota follows Lexus in the rankings with a 33-point year-over-year gain, leading all non-luxury makes. BMW moves up two ranks to third with a 53-point improvement, while Nissan improves 44 points and maintains fourth position. Suzuki records the highest year-over-year gain, improving 100 index points over 2002.

“The top four ranked makes in CSI are also the top ranked in the 2003 Taiwan Sales Satisfaction Index Study, indicating their commitment to providing customers with outstanding satisfaction throughout the ownership period,” said See. “To achieve higher customer satisfaction, it is imperative to design a customer-centric service process and implement this process all the time.”

Mercedes-Benz ranks fifth with a CSI score of 807 and was not ranked in SSI due to insufficient sample.

The 2003 Taiwan CSI Study is based on evaluations from more than 2,500 owners of personal use vehicles surveyed at 12 to 18 months of vehicle ownership (vehicles purchased between October 2001 and June 2002).