Buick, Porsche reign supreme in JD Power Sales Satisfaction Index

It's a good year for Buick when it comes to industry awards.

It's been a good year for Buick, insofar as customer surveys are concerned.

Chris Paukert/Roadshow

Buick is riding high. First, it broke a 35-year drought in Consumer Reports' reliability survey. Now, it's sitting atop the mass-market segment in JD Power's Sales Satisfaction Index, alongside Porsche.

Buick ranks higher than all mass-market brands when it comes to customer satisfaction regarding the sales experience. Porsche captured top honors for luxury brands. The study polled 28,979 buyers who bought or leased a new car in April or May 2016.

In terms of runners up, Buick unseated Mini, which held the No. 1 spot for six years (2010-2015). Behind those two are Chevrolet and GMC, respectively. Over on the luxury side, Porsche beat out Infiniti and Mercedes-Benz, respectively. BMW and Cadillac tied for fourth place.

The study also looks at the growing importance of tech in the sales experience, and how it's shaping the future of car buying. JD Power noted that the use of technology in car sales, such as using a tablet to help highlight new car features, is increasing. Yet, some old-school ways still remain. For example, 42 percent of buyers polled said they still used a telephone to call dealerships.

JD Power's SSI study also points out how dealerships themselves can improve the sales experience. Sales satisfaction improves greatly as pressure lowers, whether that's pushing fewer add-ons onto the buyer during closing or providing answers in a straightforward manner.

Older customers are, on the whole, generally more satisfied than younger buyers, and some of that likely has to do with a younger generation's greater dislike for haggling and desire for a fast, in-and-out, internet-style purchasing environment. In fact, the largest satisfaction metric in JD Power's study is "working out the deal."

The dealership experience is changing. Nowadays, between a preponderance of safety systems and ever-complicating infotainment systems, product specialists have become a vital component of the buying experience. Ensuring buyers have a full working knowledge of their vehicles' capabilities improves both the purchasing experience and JD Power's own Initial Quality metric, which includes user experience.

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