Source: JD Power
, - Average annual expenditures on vehicle maintenance and repair services have declined by approximately 7 percent from 2008, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2009 Canadian Customer Commitment Index StudySM released today.
The study finds that average annual spending on vehicle maintenance
and repair services has declined to $856 in 2009, from $920 in 2008. Further, the proportion of customers who say they "go to the cheapest place I can find for service" has increased to 23 percent, from 17 percent in 2008.
"In a difficult economy, vehicle owners seem to be delaying what they perceive to be non-essential maintenance or seeking out the lowest-cost option," said Darren Slind, senior director and Canadian automotive practice leader at J.D. Power and Associates. "In the long run, this may prove more costly in terms of vehicle reliability, but in the short term, consumers are dealing with other spending priorities."
The study, redesigned for 2009, provides a measure of the service behaviours, satisfaction and loyalty of owners of 3- to 12-year-old vehicles. Overall customer satisfaction is determined by examining five key factors of the service experience: process of getting the vehicle in for service; service advisor performance; service facility; quality of work performed; and the process of vehicle return/pick-up. The study examines customer satisfaction with both new-car dealerships and after-market facilities
NAPA AUTOPRO ranks highest in satisfying automotive service customers in Canada, receiving an overall index score of 876 on a 1,000-point scale. NAPA AUTOPRO performs particularly well in service initiation, service advisor, work quality and vehicle return. OK Tire (858) and Pennzoil (851) follow in the rankings.
The study also finds that new-car dealers continue to lose market share to after-market service providers. Overall, after-market providers now account for 59 percent of the estimated $11.2 billion annual service market for vehicles that are between three and 12 years old, up from 57 percent in 2008.
"While a two-percentage-point shift may not seem substantial, this equates to more than $220 million in lost revenue annually for dealers," said Slind. "Given declining new-vehicle sales-which are down more than 16 percent in Canada so far this year-dealers must rely more than ever on their service and parts operations. We expect that dealers will fight back aggressively in the coming year to recapture this lost market share."
At the segment level, after-market providers tend to perform well in the areas of service initiation (including ease of scheduling visit and timeliness of vehicle drop-off) and vehicle return (including timeliness and explanation of work and charges). New-car dealers perform well in the quality of their facilities (convenience, comfort, cleanliness etc.).
"The challenge for dealers is that customers place a higher priority on the people and process elements of the service experience, rather than the facility components," said Slind. "In fact, more than one-half of all vehicle owners-53 percent-actually leave the facility while their vehicle is being serviced."
Although service quality remains the most important driver of satisfaction overall, customer expectations regarding the performance of their service advisor have increased significantly during the past year. The service advisor accounts for 18 percent of overall satisfaction, up from 14 percent in 2008.
"The importance of the service advisor can't be understated, as they have such a huge impact on the quality of the customer's overall experience," said Slind. "The best advisors are great communicators-both with customers and with technicians. If the advisor has done his or her job well, the customer's perception of value is solidified, and this greatly impacts their likelihood to recommend that establishment to others and to return again."
The study also finds the following automotive service customer trends:
· When customers were asked how service providers could make their hours of operation more convenient, nearly 40 percent cited extended weekday (evening) hours.
· Satisfaction is significantly higher when customers report their service advisor provided a thorough explanation up front (overall satisfaction score of 832) than when they were not provided a thorough explanation (satisfaction score of 625).
The 2009 Canadian Customer Commitment Index Study is based on responses from 14,388 owners across Canada whose vehicles are between three and 12 years old. The survey was fielded between April and June 2009.