DETROIT—When it comes to retaining dealership service customers, Cadillac is in a class by itself. The luxury make keeps as many owners of 5-year-old Cadillacs coming back to dealerships for service as owners of new Cadillacs, a recent study noted.
No other make accomplished that, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 1999 Service Usage and Retention Study, which compares the service habits of customers whose vehicles are covered by warranties with the habits of customers whose 5-year-old vehicles no longer are covered by warranties.
Infiniti ranked No. 1 in service customer satisfaction, followed closely by Lexus. Cadillac was seventh in customer satisfaction.
Two factors figured into Cadillac's success in customer retention. First, its customer care is considered among the best in the industry, according to Joe Ivers, senior director of customer research at J.D. Power. Second, Cadillac's customer base tends to be older—a group Mr. Ivers said is easier to please and less likely to defect to the aftermarket. Eighty-six percent of owners of 5-year-old Cadillacs returned to dealership service departments, he said.
Satisfaction with the service experience during the warranty period is a good indicator of customer retention after the warranty expires, Mr. Ivers said. The things that have an impact on dealership service satisfaction during the warranty period, he explained, are whether the vehicle is ready when promised, whether the vehicle is fixed right the first time and how the customer is treated.
On the other hand, price, whether the vehicle is ready when promised and location are factors consumers take into consideration when shopping for an aftermarket service provider, Mr. Ivers said.
Consumers who take their vehicles to aftermarket providers tend to be happier with the overall experience. That seems to be especially true of women customers, who complain that they are not treated with respect when seeking service at car dealerships, he said.
However, some brands have done well with female customers, he added. The study reveals that women generally are satisfied with the service experience at Audi, Volvo, Toyota and Hyundai dealerships.