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Porsche, Mini top J.D. Power dealer service study, EV owners less happy

Porsche, Lexus and Infiniti were tops among luxury automakers, with Mini carrying the day for mainstream brands.

JD Power 2021 US Customer Service Index
Where did your favorite automotive brand land in this year's rankings?
J.D. Power

The number-crunchers at J.D. Power on Thursday released the organization's 2021 US Customer Service Index, with Porsche and Mini claiming victories in their respective segments. This industry study measures how satisfied owners and lessees of one- to three-year-old vehicles are with the work performed by franchised car dealerships and independent repair shops. The good news is, last year, dealers did a great job taking care of customers as a whole, not just with these brands.

Owing to the pandemic and various stay-at-home orders, overall service visits dropped by around 6% in 2020 compared with 2019. Motorists' number of miles driven were curbed by the virus, and, consequently, so was their need for vehicle service. Despite this, overall consumer satisfaction increased by 10 to 847 on a 1,000-point scale. This is the sixth consecutive year satisfaction has gone up. "Completing work right the first time [and] focusing on customers' needs play significant roles in satisfaction -- and dealers are nailing these key performance indicators nearly 100% of the time," Chris Sutton, vice president of automotive retail at J.D. Power, said in a statement.

Major automotive brands are also rated on a 1,000-point scale. Final scores are a composite of five individual metrics. In order of importance, this includes service quality, service facility, service initiation, service advisor and vehicle pickup. Among premium brands, this is where Porsche beat all comers, earning a score of 899. Following closely behind were Lexus, Infiniti, Cadillac and Lincoln, which just squeaked in above the segment average. Jaguar, Land Rover and Alfa Romeo occupy the bottom of this list.

Where does your car company figure on this list?

J.D. Power

Mini beat every other mainstream brand, driving away with a score of 864. Buick, Mitsubishi and GMC were the next three finishers. Kia, Chevrolet, Honda and Toyota were all above average, though four Stellantis brands are in the bottom five positions. Dodge, Jeep, Chrysler and Ram have more work to do.

What does it take to keep customers happy whey they need to bring their ride in for some work? According to J.D. Power, offering remote or online payment options is something today's drivers really appreciate. Express vehicle service is another popular offering, likely because it saves drivers a lot of time. Finally -- and somewhat paradoxically -- owners of electric vehicles are less satisfied with the service they've received. Even though battery-powered cars often require less work than their internal combustion-equipped counterparts, drivers still aren't pleased, likely because when something does go awry it can be more difficult to repair.

The findings of the 2021 J.D. Power US Customer Service Index are based on nearly 63,000 responses from verified owners and lessees of vehicles from the 2018 to 2020 model years.

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