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Cadillac Tops Automakers for Customer Satisfaction with Dealer Service

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author photo by Doug DeMuro April 2014
  • J.D. Power study rates satisfaction with dealership service departments
  • Cadillac dealers topped the study; Audi and Lexus were close behind
  • Buick and Volkswagen led among mass-market brands

Cadillac dealership service departments boast the highest customer satisfaction ratings of any automaker. So says J.D. Power's new Customer Service Index (CSI) Study, which measures customer satisfaction with dealership service among all automotive brands.

According to the J.D. Power survey, dealers for GM's iconic luxury brand topped the competition by scoring an overall 872 points on the thousand-point CSI index scale. Audi finished second with 868 points, while last year's leader, Lexus, ended up in a close third with 867 points. Each brand has likely placed an intense focus on dealership satisfaction, as all three top scores represent an increase over last year's leaders.

Among mass-market (nonluxury) brands, Buick led automakers with an overall score of 835 points on the same thousand-point scale. Volkswagen finished a close second, with 830 points, while GMC and MINI tied for third with 828 points each. The mass-market brand average, 797 points, was well below the 855-point average for luxury brands.

What's the reason for the difference between dealer-satisfaction ratings for mass-market brands and upscale automakers? According to J.D. Power, it's all about free maintenance. Many luxury brands now offer free maintenance on all their vehicles, which has gone a long way toward keeping customers happy. Few mass-market brands have adopted this strategy, which has led to lower ratings.

J.D. Power also says that free maintenance is one way to explain the increase in satisfaction scores between 2013 and 2014. More brands offer free maintenance than they did last year, which means more shoppers benefit by spending less money, leading to higher satisfaction scores.

Which dealers have the least-satisfied customers? In the luxury world, that would be Land Rover, which scored just 805 points, 35 points behind the next-lowest brand, Volvo, which was within 10 points of four other major luxury brands. Among mass-market brands, Chrysler's RAM truck brand has the dubious distinction of finishing last, with 752 points. Fellow Chrysler brands Jeep and Dodge also did poorly, finishing just ahead of RAM on J.D. Power's index.

What it means to you: Free maintenance goes a long way toward keeping customers satisfied with dealership service.

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Cadillac Tops Automakers for Customer Satisfaction with Dealer Service - Autotrader