Cadillac features Customer Service excellence

J.D. Power and Associates analyzes customer opinions of more than 800 brands

DETROIT – Cadillac was recognized today as a 2012 Customer Service Champion at the J.D. Power and Associates Customer Service Roundtable in Orlando, Fla. The luxury automaker was one of only 50 companies out of 800 studied to earn the distinction.

To qualify for inclusion, a company must excel within its own industry and stand out among leading brands in 20 major industries evaluated by J.D. Power.

2011 Cadillac Escalade Platinum.

The 2012 Champions were identified based on customer feedback, opinions, and perceptions gathered primarily from J.D. Power’s syndicated research in 2011. The group of 50 represents the highest-performing U.S. companies that deliver service excellence – both within their specific industries and across all industries measured.

“We’re in the midst of a mission to enhance every interaction a consumer has with Cadillac,” said Kurt McNeil, vice president of Cadillac Sales and Service. “We are strongly committed to customer satisfaction, and appreciate this external confirmation of our efforts.”

Cadillac has instituted wide-ranging changes to enhance the luxury customer experience, conducting comprehensive customer experience training for dealership personnel and developing an improved suite of owner benefits called Cadillac Shield.

The Cadillac Escalade received highest honors in the Large Premium Crossover/SUV category of the J.D. Power 2011 Initial Quality StudySM (IQS), which measures the number of problems consumers experience during the first 90 days of ownership.

In February, Cadillac was named the most-desired automotive brand in the United States by men, according to results of a market research test by the global strategic neuro-insight firm Buyology Inc and uSamp, which measured personal and emotional connections to 220 well-known brands across 10 industries.

Re: Study Reveals Which Car Dealers Treat Customers Best

AOL Autos covers the latest JD Powers Customer Satisfaction Survey for Auto Dealer Service results here: Study Reveals Which Car Dealers Treat Customers Best.

Cadillac scored very well, coming in 4th across all auto manufacturers. (Lexus, Jaguar, BMW, Cadillac, Acura were the top 5).  The Service survey measures:

  • Overall service quality
  • How the service experience was initiated
  • The experience with the service advisor
  • The overall impression of the service facility
  • The experience picking up the vehicle from a service appointment.

This thought gives one pause:

“Toyota dealers lead the industry in sales per franchise, so that means they have a huge volume of customers to deal with at every dealership,” Osborn said. “Their survey performance tends to reflect the fact that they have service capacity issues.”

Toyota as a brand tends to rank fairly low on Customer Satisfaction with Dealer Service.  Although Toyota and Lexus are viewed as a benchmark for fewest Dealers and most sales per Dealer, which drive dealer profits, obviously those profits are not going back into customer focus and support.

GM and Cadillac have been in an ongoing push to reduce the number of Cadillac dealers across the US.  The thought is that a lower number of dealers will reduce the overhead of Dealer interface for the Factory, and raise the sales per store and result in higher dealer profits.  Higher dealer profits can then result in a better customer experience at the Dealer.  Based on Toyota’s poor dealer performance, once would have to say this is not always the case — and take this type of study as a cautionary tale of the dangers of sub-optimizing the number of Dealers.

GM often points out that Dealers are independent businesses, not under the control of GM.  I think the main question on whether a GM Dealer should remain in business is whether they are profitable or not, including perhaps a benchmark of whether they are as profitable as other dealers in similar markets.  Closing profitable locations just in the name of having fewer locations to supply seems poor practice.  Closing profitable locations on the other hand that could and should be even more profitable in the hands of different Owners seems reasonable.

One input I hear from Dealers is that no one at GM is listening to them.  Hopefully that is changing with the new management in place. The voice of the Customer should be coming in the most clearly on the sales floor and in the service bay.  The sooner Cadillac can tune in and hear from Buyers or from current Owners the better Customer Satisfaction will be.

I get the impression on vehicle launches and Dealer interface that Cadillac is stretched thin — that they don’t have the staff or management processes in place to manage the business smoothly.  Certainly ongoing changes in staff and management can make for waves.  I would be interested to see Cadillac evaluate their organization and approach in a clean sheet organizational infrastructure design approach.

Survey says: Purchasing a new Cadillac is Satisfying

Cadillac was edged out by Jaguar for the 2009 JD Power Sales Satisfaction Index lead.  Cadillac and Jaguar each got top marks in each category except price — helping the customer find a vehicle that fit their budget.  3rd place Lexus fell back in Overall Experience, Sales People, and Paperwork/Finance.

The index is a survey of 48K customers who purchased cars between May and June of 2009.  The index focuses on the customer satisfaction with the new-vehicle purchase experience.

Interesting that if this were a test in school, the top un-curved letter grade would be a “B”.

Press Release Figure

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif.: 8 December 2009 – Overall satisfaction with the new-vehicle purchase experience has improved from 2008, but automakers are losing 12 percent of new-vehicle sales to other brands, on average, as a result of poor customer treatment at dealerships, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2009 Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) StudySM released today.

The study is a comprehensive analysis of the new-vehicle purchase experience. Overall customer satisfaction is measured for five factors: dealership facility; salesperson; paperwork/finance process; delivery process; and vehicle price.

Overall satisfaction averages 836 points on a 1,000-point scale in 2009, up by 11 points from 2008.1 Satisfaction with each of the five factors improves from 2008, with the greatest improvements in the two areas that are most within the dealer’s control-the salesperson and delivery process factors.

In particular, salespeople have improved most notably from 2008 in helping buyers stay within their budgets and in negotiating prices quickly. Within the delivery process, dealerships have improved considerably in providing complete explanations of the owner’s manual and explaining vehicle features.

“In this difficult economy, dealerships are working particularly hard to close sales, but need to be attentive to customers without exerting unwanted sales pressure,” said Jon Osborn, director of automotive research at J.D. Power and Associates. “Nearly one in four buyers in 2009 reports experiencing sales pressure from their selling dealer.”

The study finds that more than one in five shoppers who leave a dealership without purchasing a vehicle do so because they experienced poor treatment or dealer performance issues such as pricing games, sales pressure tactics or discourteous treatment. While 43 percent of these buyers ultimately purchased from a different dealer of the same brand, 57 percent decided to purchase from a different brand altogether. For the industry as a whole, this equals a 12 percent loss of retail sales to other brands.

“With the billions of dollars that automakers spend designing, producing and marketing new vehicles, as well as in driving customers to showrooms, it is critical that potential buyers are not pushed out the dealer’s door because of a poor customer experience,” said Osborn. “Manufacturers and dealers should be concerned with the experiences of all shoppers, whether they purchase or not. From a buyer’s perspective, recollections of their shopping experience include not only the selling dealer, but also all of the other dealers they visited.”

Sales Satisfaction Index Segment Rankings
Of the 38 brands included in the study, 29 have improved from 2008. Jaguar receives an award for a second consecutive year and ranks highest in 2009 among luxury brands in satisfying buyers with the new-vehicle sales process. Jaguar performs particularly well in the salesperson and paperwork/finance process factors. Following Jaguar in the luxury brand rankings are Cadillac, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz (in a tie) and Land Rover, respectively.

Among mass market brands, Mercury ranks highest and performs particularly well in all five factors. Following in the mass market segment rankings are smart, Buick, Pontiac and Chevrolet, respectively. All seven Ford and GM mass market brands rank above the segment average.

MINI improves by 16 rank positions from 2008 to rank sixth in 2009, and is the most-improved brand this year.

The study findings also include the following key trends:

  • On average, new-vehicle buyers shop at fewer than three dealerships, including the dealership from which they ultimately purchased. Nearly one-half (49%) of all new-vehicle buyers visit only their selling dealer during the purchase process. Therefore, dealers should view all shoppers as serious prospects and treat them accordingly.
  • Satisfaction scores among buyers who visited only the selling dealer (848, on average) are considerably higher than those of customers who visited more than one dealer (826, on average). Customers who have a particularly satisfying experience at the first dealer they visit are less likely to shop other dealers.

The 2009 Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) Study is based on responses from approximately 48,000 new-vehicle buyers who purchased or leased their new vehicles in May or June 2009. The study was fielded between August and October 2009. To view ratings on customer satisfaction with the new-vehicle sales process or an article on study results, visit

1Due to a change in survey methodology, for the 2009 study, the overall satisfaction score for 2008 has been recalculated to allow for year-to-year comparison.

About J.D. Power and Associates
Headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is a global marketing information services company operating in key business sectors including market research, forecasting, performance improvement, training and customer satisfaction.  The company’s quality and satisfaction measurements are based on responses from millions of consumers annually.  For more information on car reviews and ratings, car insurance, health insurance, cell phone ratings, and more, please visit J.D. Power and Associates is a business unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

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