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Customers have more resources to rate dealer performance

J.D Powers wants more up to date information on customer attitudes
J.D Powers wants more up to date information on customer attitudes
Warren Shaw

Franchised car dealers have been embracing improved customer satisfaction by necessity.
You may have noticed that more attention has been paid to trying to provide an excellent sales and service experience during your auto purchase and subsequent maintenance visits.
What you may not know is that the manufacturers have conducted numerous consumer studies and have come to realize that customer satisfaction (CSI) is one of the most important components of the retail car buying and maintenance experience.

Remember all of the screaming and howling by automobile dealership pitchmen on television and the unbelievable offers shown on a continuous loop through the night complete with all the small print verbiage moving from right to left on the bottom of the screen faster than the eye could see.

How about the five pounds of ads in the Sunday newspaper hawking all kinds of new and used cars in glorious color?
If not, you may remember Cal Worthington’s famous commercial where he offered to eat a bug if he couldn’t make you a deal.

The song went “If you have trouble with your car come see Cal.”

The Worthington spots were so popular, partly for the absurdity, that they made their way into a cult movie called “Into the Night” starring Jeff Goldblum.
Those advertising stratagem’s worked in past decades, but times have changed dramatically.
Much has changed with the realization that it is easier to get a repeat customer to make another purchase than it is to get a new customer off the street.
Retention is now the buzzword and the driving force of perceptive dealers in the automobile business.
Manufacturers have a vested interest in helping the dealers create processes to improve customer retention and have committed resources and able executives into getting it done.
After years and years of measuring the results through industry heavyweights like J.D Powers there have been improvements, but the results have not been as impressive as expected.
USA Today recently published a snippet that pointed out over 70 percent of non-dealership technicians (mechanics) were aware of other (mechanics) who sold work that was completely unnecessary.

This was a recent study that exemplifies the unique opportunity that franchised car dealers have to recapture some of the business that they lost long ago by being inattentive to their customer’s needs.
According to Blomberg’s , J.D. Power and Associates has agreed to work with DealerRater to help automakers and dealers collect dealership reviews from consumers, under a deal announced Wednesday.
DealerRater is a independent company employed by numerous car dealers to extract a customer satisfaction rating from dealer customers that offers a website for customer review. .
J.D. Power will ask some recipients of its proprietary customer satisfaction and other surveys if they also wish to write a review of the dealership where they did business, said Jonathan Miller, chief technology officer for J.D. Power.
The review would go to DealerRater, and be posted publicly on the site. Then it will be shared with automakers and dealers as part of the information about the consumer experience amassed from the larger J.D. Power survey Miller said.
The agreement could eventually give automakers, dealers and the public immediate feedback from the thousands of consumers responding to questionnaires that feed Power’s Customer Service Index and Sales Satisfaction Index surveys. Typically, those studies are published annually and are based on questionnaires mailed months before the results are released.
The program initially would be limited to the proprietary studies that J.D. Power contracts to perform for individual automakers. Those surveys of auto purchasers and lessees, which are used for diagnostic purposes to improve customer satisfaction, can contain up to 200 questions.
Later, J.D. Power could open the program to consumers responding to its syndicated Customer Service Index and Sales Satisfaction Index surveys, said Mike Battaglia, J.D. Power’s senior director of automotive retail.
The comments give dealers immediate information about how they are doing with their customers, said Jamie Oldershaw, DealerRater’s senior vice president of operations and planning.
The other advantage is that consumers are influenced by dealership reviews and star ratings when they look for a store, Oldershaw said.
DealerRater has about 1.4 million reviews on its site. About 5,000 dealers pay DealerRater to help them collect reviews and thousands more have been reviewed by consumers on the DealerRater site.
Data mining customer experiences has proven to be a compelling tool when planning advertising
and attempting to provide customers dealerships had spent significant advertising dollars to bring into the showroom and service facility to come back again.

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