According to the J.D. Power 2017 Malaysia Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) Study, customers are more satisfied with their new-vehicle sales experience this year. The study is based on responses from 2,130 new-vehicle owners who purchased their vehicles from August 2016 through May 2017.

Six factors – salesperson (19%), dealer facility (19%), delivery timing (17%), deal (16%), delivery process (16%) and sales initiation (13%) – are taken into consideration, which contribute to overall customer satisfaction with the new-vehicle purchase experience.

Looking at individual brands, Isuzu and Toyota both managed to occupy the top spot in the study with a score of 823 points (on a 1,000-point scale). They are followed by Nissan (814 points), Honda (808 points), Mazda (807 points), all of which were above the mass market average of 804 points.

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Brands that were below said average include Mitsubishi (802 points), Perodua (798 points) and Proton (793 points). Other brands that were included in the study but were not ranked due to small or insufficient sample size are Ford, Hyundai, Kia and Volkswagen.

The study also revealed overall satisfaction among customers has increased to 923 points in 2017 from 901 points in 2016, with nearly 31% of customers using the internet to research their new-vehicle purchase (27% in 2016). Diving deeper, online searches largely involve pricing and promotions, as well as vehicle features and specifications.

“Customers are taking the initiative to become more self-informed, with more carrying out their due diligence before making any purchase decisions,” said Muhammad Asyraf Bin Mustafar, country head of Malaysia at J.D. Power. This is reflected in the higher percentage of customers who have seriously considered another model (44% from 20% in 2016).

Factors that help improve customer satisfaction include test drives, where those who were offered the opportunity scored an average of 810 points. By comparison, it is just 783 points among those who are not offered a test drive. It’s also noted that the percentage of customers being offered a test drive has gone up from 67% in 2016 to 80% this year.

Receiving additional freebies from the dealer also helped boost satisfaction levels among customers, with most indicating they have been given accessories or gifts with their vehicle purchase. Unsurprisingly, satisfaction increased by 36 points when customers were given any freebies, than those who did not (811 versus 775 points, respectively).

Lastly, faster delivery times were welcomed by customers, and more than 43% customers revealed they experienced a better-than-expected delivery time this year (a 3% increase from 2016). Delivery time reschedules have also seen a decline this year (42% versus 50%, respectively), with customers being more satisfied when no rescheduling of the delivery date is needed (820 points), compared to when there is rescheduling (782 points).