Survey Gauges What Pleases Auto Aftermarket Customers

By January 28, 2021October 19th, 2021Industry News

Wards Auto | Jim Irwin | January 26th, 2021

“This research confirms that quality work done promptly, explained clearly, for a fair price, and delivered with excellent customer service is what leads to customer satisfaction among American drivers.” says Timothy Gravelle of SurveyMonkey, which conducted the study for J.D. Power.

Customers’ satisfaction with automotive aftermarket service facilities for full-service maintenance and repair, quick oil changes and tire replacement can improve significantly when they are greeted promptly, according to a J.D. Power survey.

The J.D. Power 2021 U.S. Aftermarket Service Index (ASI) Study, conducted earlier this month by survey platform SurveyMonkey, shows satisfaction scores decline when customers wait more than three minutes before being acknowledged.

“One of every 10 customers waits more than five minutes before speaking with someone at a service facility,” Chris Sutton, vice president-automotive retail at J.D. Power, says in a news release. “Seeing as how the pandemic has affected service volume, it’s really important to do a great job with the customers who do come through the door.

“Not being acknowledged can make customers feel that their time isn’t valued,” he says. “Aftermarket service providers need to ensure someone is available to greet customers when they arrive, even if it’s just to say, ‘hello.’ Otherwise, they run the risk of losing out on return business.”

The study, now in its second year following its debut in 2019, provides a numerical index ranking of the highest-performing U.S. aftermarket service facilities. Performance in three segments – full-service maintenance and repair; quick oil change; and tire replacement – is based on the combined scores for seven measures that comprise the vehicle owner service experience. These measures are ease of scheduling/getting vehicle in for service; service advisor performance; service advisor courtesy; service facility; time to complete service; fairness of charges; and quality of work.

In all three segments, customers indicate they were often greeted immediately: 42% of the time for full-service maintenance and repair; 53% of the time for quick oil change; and 34% of the time for tire replacement. However, among customers in each segment who say they waited three minutes or more – which ranges from 27% to 39% – satisfaction scores decline as much as 219 points (on a 1,000-point scale).

Key findings of the 2021 study:

  • It’s important to recommend additional service the right way: When service personnel recommend additional work, it’s important that customers understand its value and purpose. Satisfaction is highest in all three segments among customers who receive recommendations for, and agree to, additional work.

Satisfaction among full-service maintenance and repair customers is highest (804) and these customers spend an average of $564, followed by quick oil change customers (782) spending an average of $252, and tire replacement customers (766), who spend an average of $838. “Suggesting additional work can be a real test of trust,” Sutton says.

“Coming across as pushy or recommending perceived unnecessary work can negatively affect satisfaction but downplaying potentially important work can result in a missed opportunity or even create safety concerns. It’s critical that service personnel be able to justify their recommendations.”

  • Fix it right the first time: Successfully completing work the first time is the most important Key Performance Indicator (KPI) to increase customer satisfaction. When work is completed right the first time, satisfaction among full-service maintenance and repair customers increases 230 points, on average, followed by average increases of 223 and 184 points among quick oil change customers and tire replacement customers, respectively.
  • Attention to detail boosts customer satisfaction: Maintaining a clean service facility –to which customers have become highly sensitized since the pandemic began – can account for higher satisfaction scores.

However, this KPI is met less than one-third of the time: 30% for full-service maintenance and repair facilities; 25% for quick oil change facilities; and 29% for tire replacement facilities. When the service facility is cleaner than customers expect, satisfaction improves between 30 and 42 points.

Additionally, satisfaction can improve by 23 points when customers are contacted after service was completed.

“Simple things, like explaining to customers about the facility’s cleaning protocols, can make the difference between whether or not they willingly plan to return for future business or will recommend it to others,” Sutton says. “Aftermarket service providers should pay special attention to simple actions that can enhance the customer experience.”

Take 5 ranks highest in satisfaction for quick oil change with a score of 810, followed by Valvoline Instant Oil Change (784) and Kwik Kar (775).

The 2021 U.S. Aftermarket Service Index Study is based on responses from 8,148 vehicle owners surveyed online between July and October 2020. Survey respondents initially were selected from the more than 2 million people who take surveys on the SurveyMonkey platform each day. Respondents then were screened for having aftermarket service performed in the past 12 months.

For more information about the 2021 U.S. Aftermarket Service Index (ASI) Study, visit