Study: Focus on Service Process Increases Customer Satisfaction

Oct. 30, 2019

The new J.D. Power U.S. Aftermarket Service Index Study shows evaluates customer service experience in general maintenance and tire replacement segments.

Oct. 30, 2019—Satisfaction scores tend to increase when aftermarket service advisors perform consistent service processes, such as a vehicle walkaround before initiating service and when the customer is contacted after the work was completed; however, these activities aren’t regularly implemented into the service process, according to the inaugural J.D. Power 2019 U.S. Aftermarket Service Index (ASI) Study fueled by SurveyMonkey Audience, released today in a press release.

The study measures customer satisfaction with aftermarket service facilities, providing a numerical index ranking of the highest-performing U.S. aftermarket service facilities, split into two segments—general maintenance and tire replacement—which are based on the combined scores of six different measures (in order of importance) that comprise the vehicle owner service experience. These measures for general maintenance are:

  • fairness of charges (19%)
  • service quality (18%)
  • service advisor (18%)
  • service facility (16%) 
  • service initiation (15%) 
  • vehicle pick-up (14%)

For tire replacement, the measures are:

  • service initiation (20%)
  • fairness of charges (18%)
  • service quality (18%)
  • service advisor (16%)
  • vehicle pick-up (15%)
  • service facility (13%)

In total, customers are most satisfied with their service quality (755 points on a 1,000-point scale).

“Owners are holding onto their vehicles past when factory scheduled maintenance packages and warranties expire, meaning they’ll be responsible for footing the full repair bill when their vehicles need service,” said Chris Sutton, Vice President, U.S. Automotive Retail Practice at J.D. Power. “Depending on the work needed, this can be a pretty significant expense, so owners want to be assured their vehicle is in capable hands and that they’re getting what they pay for. Aftermarket service providers need to ensure a great experience so customers will want to return for future service, and might even recommend the facility to family members and friends. A lot of times, simple things like following up with a customer after a service experience can make the difference between a good and great experience.”

Vehicle walkarounds are the second-most influential Key Performance Indicator (KPI) for general maintenance and tire replacement. However, this only occurs 72 percent of the time for general maintenance and 75 percent for tire replacement. When a vehicle walkaround is performed, satisfaction scores improve 49 points for general maintenance and 47 points for tire replacement. Follow-up calls are only made approximately 33 percent of the time for general maintenance and 38 percent for tire replacement, but such calls can account for satisfaction scores that are 28 points higher for general maintenance service and 21 points higher for tire replacement service.

Following are key findings of the 2019 study:

Value of fixing it right the first time: Completing the work the first time is the most important activity for increased customer satisfaction and it’s completed a vast majority of the time in both segments (93 percent for general maintenance and 94 percent for tire replacement). In the general maintenance segment, satisfaction scores increase 247 points, which is roughly five times greater than performing a vehicle walkaround. Satisfaction scores in the tire maintenance segment are 231 points higher when work is completed right the first time. Battery replacement and tire maintenance have the highest satisfaction for general maintenance (754 and 758, respectively). Tire alignment has the highest satisfaction in the tire replacement segment (772).

Prior experience vs. recommendations: Among all age groups, the most common reason why customers select their service provider is prior experience, stressing the importance of providing a highly satisfying experience to retain customers. More than half (56 percent) of “Boomers”[1] choose service providers based on prior experience with the facility, compared with 34 percent of Generation Z service customers who have less prior experience. Generation Z customers are most likely to choose a service facility based on recommendations from others. 

Service satisfaction affects advocacy: Net Promoter Score®[2] (NPS) measures customers’ likelihood of recommending their service facility on a 0-10 scale. Customers are grouped into either the detractor (0-6), passive (7-8) or promoter (9-10) categories. Service customers were either “dissatisfied” (550 and below); “indifferent” (551-750); “pleased” (751-900); or “delighted” (901 and above). NPS increases dramatically as customers are more highly satisfied with their service. NPS scores improve 70 points (on a 100-point scale) between “indifferent” and “delighted” customers in the general maintenance segment and 65 points in the tire replacement segment. Nearly all “delighted” customers are also promoters of their service facility.

Dealer service visits decline as vehicles age: The study finds that, among customers who had aftermarket service, 33 percent of owners within the first year of ownership also had service at a new-vehicle dealership in the past year. This percentage steadily declines as vehicles age, down to 21% for owners of five-year-old vehicles, and 16 percent for nine-year old vehicles. Only 8 percent of aftermarket service customers who own vehicles 10 years or older have visited a dealer in the past year.

“Customer experience is the cornerstone when it comes to satisfaction with aftermarket service,” said Jon Cohen, Chief Research Officer at SurveyMonkey. “The data show how providers who excel at basic customer touchpoints—from vehicle walkarounds to check-up calls—have a clear edge among consumers. The data are also clear that even as larger companies embrace customer centricity, they’re lagging behind many of the regional providers.”

“Shops that specialize in more complex work may be at a slight disadvantage compared to those that solely focus on oil changes,” Sutton concluded, “so it’s vitally important to compensate by focusing on other activities that can improve customer satisfaction, like the amenities offered while customers wait and developing positive relationships between the customer and service advisor.”

Study Rankings

Les Schwab Tire Centers and Christian Brothers Automotive rank highest in a tie for satisfaction for general maintenance, with a score of 823. Grease Monkey (782) ranks third, followed by Goodyear Tire & Auto Service (780) and Valvoline Instant Oil Change (754).

Les Schwab Tire Centers ranks highest in satisfaction for tire replacement, with a score of 824. Discount Tire ranks second (793), followed by Costco Wholesale (780), Goodyear Tire & Auto Service (771) and Sam’s Club (763).

The 2019 U.S. Aftermarket Service Index Study is based on responses from 12,554 vehicle owners and was fielded in August-September 2019.

For more information about the 2019 U.S. Aftermarket Service Index Study, visit