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How do you rate vehicle after-sales service in Malaysia? Satisfaction with authorised service centres among new-vehicle owners of most national and non-national brands have improved, according to the recently released J.D. Power Asia Pacific 2013 Malaysia Customer Service Index (CSI) Study.

The study, now in its 11th year, measures overall service satisfaction among owners who took their vehicle to an authorised SC for service maintenance and/or repair work during the first 12-24 months of ownership. Satisfaction is determined by five factors: service quality (38%), vehicle pick-up (20%), service initiation (14%), service advisor (14%) and service facility (14%). Overall satisfaction stands at 758 index points (on a 1,000-point scale) in 2013, an 18-point improvement from 2012.

“While there is room to further improve service standards among the brands, dealerships are doing a good job with the service advisor greeting customers when they arrive; having the vehicle ready when it is originally promised; informing customers when to schedule their next visit; and getting the work done right the first time,” said Rajaswaran Tharmalingam, country head at J.D. Power Asia Pacific.

He further noted that the gap in service satisfaction between national and non-national brands in Malaysia has steadily narrowed to 23 points in 2013, from 31 points in 2012 and 48 in 2011.

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“Customers expect their service advisor to make sure they understand the work being done to their vehicle, as well as answer their questions and provide advice, if needed. Overall customer satisfaction suffers when their service advisor fails to meet their expectations. It is important for dealerships to make continuous improvements in customer service and create a robust and lasting experience among customers,” Tharmalingam added.

Going beyond those expectations and providing an additional service, such as washing the vehicle before returning it, positively impacts customer satisfaction, it was pointed out.

Among the 15 brands included in the 2013 study, BMW ranks highest in overall customer service satisfaction for a third consecutive year, with a score of 817. Volkswagen (793) ranks second, followed by Honda and Mazda in a tie (786 each). Mitsubishi (765) achieves the highest improvement among all brands, with a 34-point increase.

The 2013 study is based on responses from 2,772 new-vehicle owners who purchased their vehicle between February 2011 and May 2012 and took their vehicle for service to an authorised centre between August 2012 and May 2013. The study was fielded between February and May 2013.