Greeting customers plays key role in service satisfaction

J.D. Power’s 2021 U.S. Aftermarket Service Index (ASI) Study has found that saying hello and acknowledging customers upon arrival at an aftermarket service facility can significantly improve customer satisfaction scores, specifically those for full-service maintenance and repair, quick oil changes, and tyre replacement. The study also found that satisfaction scores decline when customers wait more than three minutes before they’re acknowledged.

“One of every 10 customers waits more than five minutes before speaking with someone at a service facility,” said Chris Sutton, Vice President of Automotive Retail at J.D. Power. “Seeing as how the (COVID-19) pandemic has affected service volume, it’s really important to do a great job with the customers who do come through the door. Not being acknowledged can make customers feel that their time isn’t valued.

“Aftermarket service providers need to ensure someone is available to greet customers when they arrive, even if it’s just to say, ‘hello.’ Otherwise, they run the risk of losing out on return business.”

The study, now in its second year following its debut in 2019, measures customer satisfaction with aftermarket service facilities, providing a numerical index ranking of the highest-performing U.S. aftermarket service facilities. Performance in three segments — full-service maintenance and repair; quick oil change; and tyre replacement — is based on the combined scores for seven measures that comprise the vehicle owner service experience. These measures are ease of scheduling/getting vehicle in for service; service advisor performance; service advisor courtesy; service facility; time to complete service; fairness of charges; and quality of work.

In all three segments, customers indicate they were very often greeted immediately: 42 per cent of the time for full-service maintenance and repair; 53 per cent of the time for quick oil change; and 34 per cent of the time for tyre replacement. However, among customers in each segment who say they waited three minutes or more — which ranges from 27 per cent to 39 per cent — satisfaction scores decline up to 219 points (on a 1,000-point scale).

Key findings of the 2021 study:

• It’s important to recommend additional service the right way: When service personnel recommend additional work, it’s important that customers understand its value and purpose. Satisfaction is highest in all three segments among customers who receive recommendations for — and accept — additional work. Satisfaction among full-service maintenance and repair customers is highest (804) and these customers spend an average of $564, followed by quick oil change customers (782) with an average spend of $252, and tyre replacement customers (766), who spend an average of $838.

“Suggesting additional work can be a real test of trust,” Sutton said. “Coming across as pushy or recommending perceived unnecessary work can negatively affect satisfaction but downplaying potentially important work can result in a missed opportunity or even create safety concerns. It’s critical that service personnel be able to justify their recommendations.”

• Fix it right the first time: Successfully completing work the first time is the most important Key Performance Indicator (KPI) to increase customer satisfaction. When work is completed right the first time, satisfaction among full-service maintenance and repair customers increases 230 points, on average, followed by average increases of 223 points among quick oil change customers and 184 points among tyre replacement customers.

• Attention to detail boosts customer satisfaction: Maintaining a clean service facility — to which customers have become highly sensitised since the pandemic began — can account for higher satisfaction scores. However, this KPI is met less than one-third of the time: 30 per cent for full-service maintenance and repair facilities; 25 per cent for quick oil change facilities; and 29 per cent for tyre replacement facilities. When the service facility is cleaner than customers expect, satisfaction improves between 30 and 42 points. Additionally, satisfaction can improve by 23 points when customers are contacted after service was completed. “Simple things — like explaining to customers about the facility’s cleaning protocols — can make the difference between whether or not they willingly plan to return for future business or will recommend it to others,” Sutton said. “Aftermarket service providers should pay special attention to simple actions that can enhance the customer experience.”

“Even with many Americans having reduced their travel because of the pandemic, many still require automotive service, and their service expectations remain high,” said Timothy Gravelle, Senior Manager of Research Science at SurveyMonkey. “This research confirms that quality work done promptly, explained clearly, for a fair price, and delivered with excellent customer service is what leads to customer satisfaction among American drivers.”

The 2021 U.S. Aftermarket Service Index (ASI) Study is based on responses from 8,148 vehicle owners. Survey data collection was conducted online between July and October 2020.

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