Bangalore: Škoda topped the rankings in overall sales satisfaction for a second consecutive year, according to the JD Power Asia Pacific 2008 India Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) Study released today.
The study, redesigned for 2008, measures new-vehicle owner satisfaction with the sales and delivery experience by examining seven key factors such as delivery process, delivery timing, salesperson, sales initiation, dealer facility, paperwork, and deal.
Currently in its ninth year, the study finds that overall satisfaction across the industry averages 767 on a 1,000-point scale, with six of 10 vehicle manufacturers included in the study performing above the industry average.
Škoda ranks highest with an overall SSI score of 799, performing particularly well in all seven factors driving new-vehicle owner satisfaction. Ford follows with a score of 792 while Honda, Mahindra and Toyota tie to rank third (782).
''Škoda customers are particularly satisfied with the salesperson and the sales initiation process,'' said Mohit Arora, senior director at JD Power and Associates, Singapore. ''The salesperson plays a key role in providing a hassle-free vehicle purchase experience for customers and represents the face of the manufacturer. Having an efficient, knowledgeable and friendly salesperson creates a strong and positive perception not only of the dealer but also the manufacturer in the minds of customers.''
The study also finds that the number of owners who shopped online prior to purchasing their new vehicle has steadily increased-up from less than 10 per cent in 2004 to 20 per cent in 2008. On average, owners of midsize vehicles utilize the Internet more often, compared with owners of vehicles in the small or utility vehicle segments.
Additionally, first-time buyers and former motorcycle and scooter owners who are upgrading to a new vehicle report using the Internet during the shopping process more often, compared with repeat vehicle buyers.
''With increasing Internet penetration and younger buyers steadily entering the new-vehicle market, the Internet is likely to play a greater role in influencing vehicle-purchase decisions in the coming years in India,''said Arora. ''Internet usage creates greater awareness and influences buyer expectations. Manufacturers will increasingly need to consider the role that the Internet plays in the sales process to ensure higher satisfaction levels.''
The study also highlights the importance of simple actions taken by dealerships, such as ensuring that the test drive vehicle is clean and in good condition, which can lead to enhanced buyer satisfaction. Similarly, specific actions taken after delivery-such as contacting an owner to assess the vehicle's condition, or sending a thank-you letter or making a courtesy phone call-can also significantly boost buyer satisfaction.
''The degree to which buyer satisfaction is impacted by these simple actions shows the value that buyers place in dealer contact,'' said Arora. ''A satisfying sales experience results not only in greater advocacy and loyalty towards a brand but also higher intentions to stay with the dealership for service and to ultimately repurchase the next new vehicle from that dealer.''
The 2008 India Sales Satisfaction Index Study is based on responses of more than 5,416 owners of 41 different vehicle models at two to six months of ownership. The study was fielded from March to June 2008 in 20 cities in India.