2023 J.D. Power U.S. Customer Service Index Study posts rare drop

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The J.D. Power U.S. Customer Service Index Study (CSI) is a barometer of a vehicle owner’s happiness with the service experience. While it wasn’t all bad in the 2023 study, the overall owner satisfaction score dropped. This year’s tally of 846 out of 1,000 is two points down from 2022, the 43-year-old study’s first decline in more than 28 years, and one point down from 2021. However, the overall score remains well up from the pre-pandemic scores of 821 in 2018 and 837 in 2020.

The study claims the stumbling block is the horde of BEV launches. The flood into the new energy space has created a recall rate among EVs that’s more than double the rate for ICE vehicles. Furthermore, dealership service department knowledge of EVs isn’t on par with internal combustion engine expertise, leaving EV owners less satisfied with service advisors compared to ICE owners.

Chris Sutton, VP of automotive retail at J.D. Power, said, “As training programs for service advisors and technicians evolve, EV service quality and customer experience must address both the vehicle and the unique customer needs. The EV segment has the potential to spur massive convenience improvements in how customers service their vehicles — but we’re not seeing the benefits yet.”

Matters are slightly worse for all owners, though, with labor and parts shortages contributing to longer wait times for service appointments.

The CSI study surveys owners and lessees of one- to three-year-old vehicles to gauge their happiness with service at franchised dealer or aftermarket service facilities for maintenance or repair work. The criteria in order of importance are service quality (32%); service advisor (19%); vehicle pick-up (19%); service facility (15%); and service initiation (15%).

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Lexus retains the top spot for luxury brands, giving it three wins in four years. The Japanese automaker won in 2020 as well, its run interrupted by Porsche in 2021. Cadillac, Infiniti and Acura complete the luxury top 5. 

For mass-market cars, Mitsubishi wins again after a victory in 2021 and falling to fourth last year. It’s followed by Mazda, Buick, Subaru and Mini. 

Considering the different service needs and service experience of different body styles, the study has broken results out by segment for the first time. Lexus earned a second victory thanks to winning the premium SUV segment, and Mitsubishi earned a second victory by winning the mass-market SUV/minivan category. Nissan wins for pickup trucks, ahead of Chevrolet and GMC. Subaru carried the mass-market car segment ahead of Mazda and Honda.

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