Mitsubishi has come out on top in the 2018 J.D. Power Malaysia Customer Service Index (CSI) Study, finishing ahead of Mazda, Volkswagen and Nissan. Based on a 1,000-point scale, Mitsubishi scored 814 points, Mazda netted 786, whereas VW and Nissan are tied at 776. Toyota, which was the top car brand in the 2017 study, slipped four spots to finish fifth, with a score of 772 points.

Three other brands were ranked in the study, with Honda finishing in sixth with a score of 752, Perodua with 742 points and Proton with 739 points. All three automakers fell below the industry average score of 754 points – other brands such as Ford, Kia, Subaru and Hyundai were not ranked due to small or insufficient sample size.

The study found several key findings. Satisfaction is higher among customers who used express service than those who didn’t (784 vs 733 respectively), and the average time used for an express service is 125 minutes compared to 150 minutes for regular service.

Similarly, service provided in under three hours is also crucial. Customers are more satisfied when the time taken to service the vehicle is within three hours (767 points). The score drops considerably when it takes longer (726 points).

Communication between technician and customer also seems to boost satisfaction levels. The score for those who spoke with their technicians (56%) and agreed to additional work recommended by their service advisor is 801 points, versus 729 points for those who did not speak to their technicians but still proceeded with the recommendations.

Other factors influencing customer satisfaction is personal interaction with the service advisor and use of digital technology, such as making a service appointment online or via a digital app. J.D. Power country manager for Malaysia, Muhammad Asyraf said “the use of electronic devices in the vehicle owner interaction processes at the dealership are primarily targeted at improving owner convenience and enhancing dealer efficiency. However, it is important to also recognise the value of human interaction.”

“The availability and accessibility of well-trained and professional staff at the dealership go a long way toward building customer relationships and engagement, with technology also acting as a key enabler in the process,” he added.

Fast access to the service advisor during a vehicle drop off also contributes to the scoring process. Satisfaction is higher among owners who were first greeted by a service advisor upon arrival (82%) than when greeted by someone else (769 vs 698 respectively). Satisfaction is also higher among owners who waited to speak to their service advisor for five minutes or less than among those who had to wait for more than 5 minutes (772 vs 734 respectively).

The results are based on responses from 2,957 new-vehicle owners who received delivery of their new cars between March 2015 and July 2017 and took their vehicle for service to an authorised dealer or service centre between March 2017 and July 2018. The study was fielded from March through July 2018. The study measures overall satisfaction based on five factors (in order of importance): service quality (25%), vehicle pick-up (21%), service initiation (20%), service facility (17%) and service advisor (16%).