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Thumbs up for Honda dealers in new survey

Extending itself: Honda recently launched a five-year extended warranty and roadside assistance offer across its range (valid until the end of June).

Honda on top, Hyundai disappoints in dealer service and repair satisfaction study


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31 May 2013

HONDA has emerged as the standout among the top 10 biggest-selling automotive brands in Australia in terms of dealer service and repair satisfaction, according to the latest data from Roy Morgan Research.

Based on Roy Morgan’s ‘single source’ surveys, the results show that almost one million Australians took their car to the dealership from where it was purchased for servicing or mechanical repair within an average three-month period.

Of the top 10 brands by sales volume, the overwhelming majority of Honda drivers (94.3%) said they were satisfied with the dealership’s service, well above the industry average of 85.8 per cent.

Fellow Japanese brands Subaru and Mazda were second and third respectively on 90.0 and 89.3 per cent, with Ford close behind in fourth on 89.1 per cent.

While the runaway Australian market leader Toyota was middle of the pack on 87.5 per cent, Hyundai managed only 80.3 per cent to trail the top-10 field in terms of satisfaction with the service centre.

Volkswagen, which in recent months has moved to improve this side of its business after below-average results in the annual JD Power customer satisfaction index (CSI) study, also finished well back from the industry average in ninth position, with 81.6 per cent.

Holden was marginally better on 82.5 per cent, but still below the industry average and behind both Mitsubishi (85.8%) and Nissan (87.2%).

Roy Morgan Research industry communications director Norman Morris said the ownership experience and related warranty coverage had become an increasingly important factor for car companies in Australia.

“Many makes have introduced four- and five-year warranties in an attempt to woo potential buyers from competitor brands,” he said.

“However, while over two in three Hyundai owners who returned the car to the dealership for servicing were covered by a five-year warranty, the make had the lowest service satisfaction score, over 5 per cent below the industry average.”

Roy Morgan’s single-source survey results are based on about 1000 interviews covering a range of topics that are held almost every weekend during the year, culminating in more than 50,000 interviews over 12 months.

This latest survey covers 2451 drivers who had returned to the dealership for a service or mechanical repair within the last three months, over the period March 2011 to February 2013.

Roy Morgan has provided figures for GoAuto that compare this year’s results with those from six years ago – measured over an identical 24-month period (to February 2007) – which show the movement in satisfaction levels among the top-selling brands.

Honda (92.6%), Mazda (92.3%) and Subaru (92.0%) were still top performers in 2007 – although both Mazda and Subaru have fallen 2-3 per cent since then – while Hyundai has dropped more than five per cent over the period from 85.9 per cent six years ago.

The industry average was virtually identical in 2007 with 2013, as was the level of satisfaction for Holden (82.5%), but Mitsubishi has fallen over the period (down from 90.5%) while Ford, Nissan and Toyota have increased – up from 82.7, 83.5 and 86.8 per cent respectively.

Roy Morgan says VW’s sample was too small for a direct comparison.

Hyundai Motor Co Australia public relations general manager Bill Thomas told GoAuto that dealer servicing and customer satisfaction “is an area we obviously take very seriously and we’re always looking at ways to improve”.

He added that recent company initiatives such as capped-price servicing introduced in August last year would be expected to have “a positive effect going forward” in future surveys.

“We certainly receive a lot of great feedback about capped price servicing, and the standard of service our dealers provide,” he said. “We have thousands of customers across the country who are satisfied with both our vehicles and our aftersales service.”

Roy Morgan’s latest results make interesting reading alongside JD Power’s annual CSI study released last November, which measures Australian new-vehicle buyer satisfaction with the aftersales service process across all mainstream vehicle brands.

In the CSI study, Honda likewise claimed top position – though on equal terms with Toyota – while Subaru and Mazda were close behind. Hyundai was middle of the field but below the industry average, while Holden and Ford were further behind.

Volkswagen could only manage 12th place, well down on the industry average and below its results in the previous year’s survey, which prompted former VW Group Australia managing director Anke Koeckler to attempt to improve customer satisfaction with the brand.

As GoAuto has reported, Ms Koeckler subsequently made a point of sitting in on customer complaint meetings and working to improve lines of communications with its customer care department.

More recently, Volkswagen has introduced other measures designed to turn around what it described as “bad publicity” about the VW badge, including capped-price servicing and a longer five-year warranty covering its DSG dual-clutch automatic transmissions.

However, the company has this week again been forced to defend the safety of its cars after a raft of complaints about certain models losing power at high speeds.

These complaints have been widely reported as a coronial investigation was held this week into the death of Melissa Ryan, who was killed when her VW Golf was hit from behind by a truck on the Monash Freeway in Melbourne in 2011.

Various reports suggest Ms Ryan’s car dramatically slowed before the collision, although VW has said there was no evidence to suggest vehicle fault was involved in the crash.

Hyundai, meanwhile, has had a string of consecutive record sales months since the second half of last year, with new registrations for the brand up 4.5 per cent – and beyond 30,000 units – to the end of April, for an 8.4 per cent share of the market.

In 2010, the company set an ambitious target of just under 10 per cent market share in 2012 – it finished short of this mark, with 8.2 per cent – but has nonetheless increased its sales volume over the period to more than 91,500 units last year (up 5.2 per cent).

On the back of new customers and a bigger dealer network (out to 155 retailers at last count, up from 142 in 2008), the challenge for the South Korean brand – like many other brands experiencing substantial growth – is to clearly ensure that its aftersales business is up to scratch.

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