Volume 4, Number 10 - October 3, 2006

In a recent J.D. Power and Associates report Lexus topped all auto manufacturers with the highest reported dealership customer service satisfaction. The survey measures satisfaction of vehicle owners utilizing a dealership service department during the first three years of vehicle ownership. The report states that satisfaction with the service advisor and the service experience, an area that has many more customer interactions than does the sales department, correlates with money spent with the dealership and influences additional brand sales. Poor service experience reduces customer loyalty.

In that same report, Toyota came in significantly below average, with a ranking closer to bottom dwellers Isuzu and Suzuki than to leaders Lexus, Buick, and Cadillac. The J.D. Power report shows Toyota has an Achilles heel vulnerable to competition.

The Lexus ranking indicates Toyota knows how to provide outstanding service, but the Toyota brand ranking suggests the company has not yet extended those lessons to its high volume brand. While Ford and GM focus on cost reduction and slash employment, perhaps they should be placing simultaneous and heavily marketed focus on their dealership service in an attempt to bolster their brand images. Car buyers have not been given much reason lately to feel good about the future of either company; only Ford and GM can fix that, and the window of opportunity is closing quickly.

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