Nearly one in five new vehicle buyers in Australia indicate the sales consultant only partially understands their needs when buying a new vehicle, according to the J.D. Power 2018 Australia Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) Study, released in January.

A further 17 per cent of customers criticised sales consultants for not asking about their preferences when buying a new vehicle. The same proportion of first-time buyers experienced the same.

“Given the slowdown in sales, it is essential that sales consultants spend the required time with each shopper to identify the best model and variant for their requirements,” said Bruce Chellingworth, Director & Country Manager – Australia at J.D. Power.

“Simply ‘pushing metal’ won’t help the dealership gain positive referral, ensure customer loyalty or promote the brand. In an increasingly competitive market, it is imperative Dealers understand and build trust with their customers.”

Other key findings:

  • Test drives are typically too short: While more than four in five customers chose to take a test drive, half spend only 20 minutes or less in the vehicle, with 19 per cent experiencing only 10 minutes or less on the road. Customers experiencing a test drive lasting 31 minutes or longer (12 per cent) are more satisfied than those who experience 10 minutes or less on the road (821 vs 807, respectively, on a 1,000-point scale).
  • Sales consultants still pressuring customers to buy: The study found that younger shoppers (39 years old or younger) and first-time new car buyers experience higher levels of pressure from the Dealer to purchase a new vehicle (35 per cent and 24 per cent, respectively).
  • Delivery of a new vehicle not celebrated with the customer: A new car is a major purchase for the vast majority of consumers, but only 56 per cent of customers recall any special ceremony taking place during handover. Providing acknowledgement via a special ceremony not only enhanced sales satisfaction scores compared with instances when no ceremony takes place (827 versus 779, respectively), but also increased the proportion of customers who “definitely will” recommend the selling dealership to friends and family (70 per cent versus 54 per cent, respectively).

Study rankings

Among the 11 mass market brands ranked in the study, Holden and Mazda ranked equal highest with a score of 822. Toyota was third with a score of 815, followed by Nissan (804) and Ford (802).
BMW ranked highest in sales satisfaction among luxury brands, with a score of 861. Audi was second with a score of 836, while Mercedes-Benz ranked third with a score of 814.

The 2018 Australia Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) Study measured satisfaction with the sales experience among new vehicle buyers. Buyer satisfaction was based on six measures: Dealer sales consultant; delivery process; dealership facility; working out the deal; paperwork completion and dealership website.

The study was based on responses from 3,075 buyers who purchased or leased their new vehicle between March 2017 through January 2019. The study is a comprehensive analysis of the new-vehicle purchase experience and measures customer satisfaction with the selling Dealer (satisfaction among buyers). The study was fielded from March 2018 through January 2019.

The study now also includes the Net Promoter Score, which measures new vehicle owners’ likelihood to recommend their vehicle brand on a 0-10 point-scale.

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