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Dealer Service Departments Show Improvements

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jeffgilbert Jeff Gilbert
Automotive reporter for WWJ Newsradio 950 and CBS Radio News....
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DETROIT (WWJ) - Lexus remains at the top, when it comes to servicing buyer’s cars and trucks, but a new J.D. Power study shows everybody’s making gains.

“This year we found, consistent with the previous years, that the customers experience continues to improve,” said J.D. Power Senior Director of Automotive Retail Practice.

Power’s annual Customer Service Index saw overall satisfaction with the service process rise from 787 to 797 on a 1000 point scale.

Eight brands improved their scores by more than 20 points.

Sutton says dealers are concentrating on three areas, “people, process and surroundings.”

“Things like service advisers that are providing customers clearer explanations, setting expectations accordingly,” he said. “Dealers are working on streamlining the process, getting customers in and out a little more quickly. Certainly surroundings, things like the customer service area are becoming extremely customer friendly.”

The improved results, Sutton says, come out of the deep sales downturn the industry faced in 2008 and 2009. When sales dropped off, dealers decided to put more of a focus on service.

Lexus finished in first place for the fifth consecutive year. It was followed by Cadillac , Jaguar, Acura and Infiniti . GMC topped the mass market brands.

Money spent on improving service operations, Sutton says, can see long-term gains in terms of not only repair and maintenance business, but customers who decide to come back to the showroom when it’s time to purchase a new vehicle.

“When they decide to purchase another vehicle, we certainly found a relationship between the customer service experience and their resulting owner loyalty.”

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