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Who's the Best in Customer Satisfaction in 2016?

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Audi, Mini score highest in service department satisfaction, J.D. Power says!

Ha! Who woulda thunk it?

Well, according to the fine reporting of  Twitter  in Automotive News:

Audi and Mini were the two winners in customer satisfaction at dealership service departments in a benchmark study that J.D. Power and Associatesreleased today.

Mini was the highest ranked mass-market brand in J.D. Power’s 2016 U.S. Customer Service Index Study while Audi was the top luxury brand.

Mini, which finished second in last year’s study, scored an 858 on a 1,000 point scale, up from 834 in 2015.

Buick, GMC, Chevrolet and Hyundai rounded out the top five.

Among luxury brands, Audi scored an 874, up nine points from its third-place finish last year. Following Audi were Lexus, Cadillac, Mercedes-Benz and a tie between Jaguar and Lincoln.

The study measured customer satisfaction with service at a franchised dealership for maintenance or repair work.

Conducted between October and December 2015, the study was based on responses from more than 72,000 owners and lessees of 2011-15 vehicles.

While the industry’s 51 million recalled vehicles in 2015 was not as high as 2014’s record of over 60 million, customer satisfaction with recall service dropped to 781 in the latest report -- the first decline in six years.

Non-recall work

Satisfaction among customers with non-recall service averaged 809, the study said.

“While it may be tempting for dealers to focus more on repair or maintenance work, recall customers represent both an opportunity and a risk to the brand and dealer,” said Chris Sutton, vice president, U.S. automotive retail practice at J.D. Power, in a statement.

“There is a need for consistency in the service experience, regardless of the reason for the visit. A lack of consistency, particularly for recall work, can damage customers’ perceptions of the brand and negatively impact their likelihood to recommend and repurchase the brand.”

Overall satisfaction, which is based solely on the first three years of ownership, in both the mass-market and luxury categories, was up from a year earlier.

The average score for the mass-market category was 797 up from 792. The average luxury score was up two points to 854 in 2016.

The overall score, recall and non-recall combined, was 807, up from 802 last year.

Other findings:

• A customer’s wait time is key to a higher satisfaction score, J.D. Power said in the report. Seventy percent of all service customers are willing to wait between one and two hours to have their vehicle serviced, the study found. 17 percent of customers will wait less than an hour or not at all for service.

• Customer satisfaction averaged 835 when the wait time is less than one hour and 40 minutes but declined to 756 the longer the wait.

• Satisfaction improves by 44 points when a service advisor greets customers within two minutes of their arrival the study said.

• Only 2 percent of all customers receive service updates via text message or email. J.D. Power noted 37 percent of Generation X customers and 38 percent of Generation Y customers prefer text messages or email for service updates.

• 94 percent of customers reported that the dealer fixed the issue right the first time. For the 6 percent who did not, satisfaction dropped by 207 points to 611.

You can reach Jack Walsworth at jwalsworth@crain.com.

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