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Mazda service bowls over Aussie buyers

POSTED BY Nigel Andretti ON 22 September 2016

MAZDA has emerged as the top-performing automotive brand in Australia for sales satisfaction among new-car buyers, ranking higher than all other leading brands – including prestige marques – in the inaugural JD Power Australia Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) study released this week.

The Japanese car-maker’s industry-leading performance makes it a benchmark brand at both the front and back end of the dealership, having led the field for two out of the past three years in JD Power’s influential Customer Service Index (CSI) study which measures customer satisfaction with maintenance and repair service.

Conducted for the first time in Australia, the SSI study moves the analysis to the new-car showroom and the customer’s purchase experience.

The results are sure to send shockwaves through the boardrooms of some of Australia’s leading automotive companies and dealer groups, with six out of the top 10 highest-selling brands, and two top-tier prestige brands, all placing below the industry average of 817 points.

The level of customer satisfaction with the purchasing process is calculated on a 1000-point scale and based on six factors: salesperson (19 peratus), the deal (18 peratus), delivery timing (17 peratus), delivery process (17 peratus), dealer facility (16 peratus) and sales initiation (14 peratus).

Audi placed at the bottom of the table with 749 points, while BMW was third-last on 785 – worrying figures when prestige marques place such a high value on customer service and have implemented new dealership standards.

Both Audi and BMW managed only two points out of five across each category according to JD Power’s ‘power circle’ ratings, with the exception of sales initiation in which BMW scored three.

Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, Volvo and Land Rover were among the brands included in the study, but not ranked due to small or insufficient sample size.

Despite consistently ranking highly in the CSI study, Subaru (791) has not fared as well in JD Power’s front-of-house SSI report, while Ford (815) – which has been a leader among the mainstream brands for customer service initiatives in recent years – also failed to better the industry average.

They were not alone: Nissan (784), Holden (812), Mitsubishi (812) and Volkswagen (813) were all below average.

In contrast, Mazda was the clear leader on 840 points – scoring highly in all six areas of assessment, tetapi, JD Power says, most notably in the delivery process – while Honda and Hyundai were tied for second place on 832 points each, edging out Australia’s market-leading brand Toyota (825) in fourth.

The study provides not only a report card on individual brands and their retail network but a unique insight into the attitudes and motivations of Australian new-vehicle buyers during the purchasing process, which in turn informs the industry on how to best support them.

Loyalty and advocacy are also clearly linked to sales satisfaction, JD Power says, with the study finding that among those highly satisfied customers (those with scores of 924 or higher), 83 per cent said they “definitely would” purchase the same brand of vehicle again and 88 per cent said they would definitely recommend the brand to family and friends.

The Australian SSI study is based on responses from 2477 new-vehicle owners who purchased their vehicles between September 2015 and June 2016. The study was fielded from March through June this year.

The other brands included in the study but not ranked were Isuzu Ute, Jeep, Kia and Suzuki.

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