3 Takeaways from the 2017 JD Power Sales Satisfaction Study


JD Power recently published the findings of its 2017 U.S. Sales Satisfaction Index Study, and it has some important findings that should impact the way dealerships conduct business. The study, now in its 31st year, measures the satisfaction of new car shoppers with the sales experience. Your dealership is always looking for ways to make your customers happier, so why not actually listen to what they have to say?

The study based buyer satisfaction on six different measures: dealer personnel, delivery process, working out the deal, paperwork completion, dealership facility, and dealership website.

Why is buyer satisfaction important? Well, for one, happy customers will come back. They will become loyal customers, both for their servicing needs as well as for their future purchases. Second, they’re much more likely to write a positive review online. Reviews are a powerful tool for your dealership to leverage– 93% of millennials read product reviews prior to purchase, and the more satisfied customers you have the more positive reviews you’ll be able to publish. Finally, referrals. There’s no better feeling than hearing that a customer heard about your dealership from a satisfied friend or family member.

You should definitely read through the findings of the study (which you can find here), but in the meantime, here are three major takeaways:

It’s all about pre-purchase

JD Power found that a customer’s satisfaction with a dealer is based by and large on pre-purchase activities. Interactions with salespeople and the information that they receive before actually purchasing their car is what will determine how happy a shopper is with the entire buying process.

Although we speak about it all the time, it bears repeating: pre-purchase activities begin on your website. Shoppers will first browse your site for offers and information, before reaching out to you or your sales team. Make sure that your website is helpful, easy to navigate, and intuitive. Personalize and customize your shoppers’ experience to entice them to come into your store. In this way you’ll start off on the right foot, and they are more likely to stick with you until the sale.

Follow-up even after the sale

Customers love attention– it makes them happy and it keeps them coming back. This attention goes beyond simply answering questions, though. 80% of mass market car buyers reported that they were contacted by the dealership after their purchase. However, only 32% reported receiving a second follow-up call to explain the features of their vehicle. This second follow-up call raised their overall satisfaction by over 10%.

What does this mean for your dealership? It means that people want to be helped. They are looking for support throughout the buying process, even after they’ve had their vehicle for some time. Following through on follow-up will give your customers that fuzzy feeling that the salesperson who sold them their vehicle really cares about them, and not just about their money.

Be their one resource

Your salespeople may have perfected their pitch about a vehicle, but does it include an explanation of how each and every feature actually works? Are customers actually shown how to use a feature, as opposed to just being told that it exists? The extra effort put into ensuring that shoppers are fully confident in using all of their vehicle’s technology is appreciated by car buyers. The study found that 41% of mass market buyers want to completely learn about a vehicle’s features and controls during the delivery process, and 65% said that having a salesperson show them how to use features on their smartphones was a “very effective” tool.

It’s not enough to know about the latest technology and be able to explain it in theory. Make sure your sales team is given the opportunity to actually use these tools, so that they can easily show them to your customers in action.

It’s not often that you get to look into your customers’ minds. Dealerships are well-advised to closely follow the findings of industry surveys and studies like JD Power’s, to ensure that they are up-to-date on what customers want and figure out the best ways to give it to them.