Wait Times Throw a Wrench in Service Satisfaction Scores

Wait times continue to grow and show no signs of changing, reports J.D. Power.

Nancy Dunham, Principal Analyst/Retail

March 20, 2024

3 Min Read
service
Parts and labor shortages contribute to service delays.Getty Images

Dealers who want to boost their customer satisfaction ratings for service should work to reduce wait times.

The J.D. Power 2024 U.S. Customer Service Index (CSI) Study found an increase in the average wait for service appointments, with mass-market vehicle owners experiencing a wait of 5.2 days, up from 4.8 days in 2023 and premium vehicle owners waiting 5.4 days. Despite some improvements in service satisfaction, challenges such as parts and labor shortages continue to extend wait times. Yet overall customer satisfaction has rebounded.

Key insights include a preference for prompt service leading customers to aftermarket facilities, the beneficial role of technology in enhancing service experience, a 30% increase in spending per dealer visit over two years and notably lower satisfaction among non-Tesla battery-electric vehicle owners, who face more frequent recalls and lower satisfaction with recall services compared to owners of other vehicle types.

The study underscores the impact of wait times and technology on customer service perceptions in the automotive industry.

“Excluding Tesla owners, the service experience for BEV owners is underwhelming,” says Chris Sutton, vice president of automotive retail at J.D. Power. “As sales of BEVs continue to grow and the industry moves out of the early-adopter phase, the typical owner will not be as willing to tolerate a less-than-stellar service and ownership experience.”

There is positive news, though, reports J.D. Power. Overall customer service satisfaction improved five points to 851 (on a 1,000-point scale).

Still, parts and labor shortages are among the factors that fuel longer wait times for appointments.

Contributing to the poor service experience of non-Tesla BEV owners is a notable lack of trust in servicing dealers to perform complex repairs and provide helpful guidance. Overall, dealer trust among non-Tesla BEV owners is 5.62 (on a 7-point scale) but jumps to 6.00 among gas-powered vehicle owners and 5.74 among plug-in hybrid (PHEV) owners.

Consider these key findings from the report:

  • Customers want prompt service appointments: Longer wait times at dealers drive more customers to aftermarket service facilities. Among customers in the mass market segment, 35% now choose aftermarket service because of the ability to be seen right away, surpassing cheaper costs (34%) as a reason for choosing such service. Notable, too, is that 55% of customers select aftermarket service due to the convenience of location. 

  • Technology improves service experience: Using technology is an important part of enhancing the service visit. Customers are four times more likely to indicate they would like to get service updates via text message (68%) than by phone call (16%). Additionally, when service advisors provide photos or videos to support the results of a multi-point inspection, customer satisfaction with their advisor improves 31 points than when no images or videos are shared (911 vs. 880). 

  • The amount spent per dealer visit continues to climb: During the past two years, the average amount spent on a recent dealer service visit has risen by 30% for owners of both premium and mass-market vehicles. Owners of premium vehicles pay an average of $380, up $66 from 2023, while owners of mass market vehicles pay $140, a year-over-year increase of $15. Among customers whose service is not covered by warranty or a maintenance contract, these increases can be attributed to inflation and higher costs for parts and labor. 

  • Non-Tesla BEV owners are the least satisfied: Owners of non-Tesla BEVs experience recalls slightly more than twice as often as owners of gas-powered vehicles. Compounding the problem, overall service satisfaction with recall work is 782 among these affected owners – 50 points lower than among owners of gas-powered vehicles (832). In fact, non-Tesla BEV owners have the lowest satisfaction with recall work across all other major vehicle categories, including diesel (831), hybrids (827) and PHEVs (821).

The 2024 U.S. Customer Service Index (CSI) Study is based on responses from 64,781 verified registered owners and lessees of 2021 to 2023 model-year vehicles. J.D. Power goes to great lengths to ensure that survey respondents are true owners of the brand they are representing. The study was fielded from August through December 2023.

For more information about the U.S. Customer Service Index (CSI) Study, visit https://www.jdpower.com/business/automotive/us-customer-service-index-csi-study

 

About the Author(s)

Nancy Dunham

Principal Analyst/Retail, WardsAuto

Nancy Dunham is a former staff member or contributor to NADA publications, US News & World Report, Automotive News, MotorTrend and other automotive and general interest publications.
Contact her at [email protected] or

https://www.linkedin.com/in/nancydwrites/.

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