Customer satisfaction drops when trucks not ready when promised

Overall service satisfaction among medium-duty truck owners declines considerably if their truck is not ready when promised, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2010 U.S. Medium-Duty Truck Customer Satisfaction StudySM.

The study finds that overall service satisfaction averages 215 points higher (on a 1,000-point scale) among truck owners who receive their truck when promised, compared with those who do not.

“Clearly, the message to dealers is to avoid over-promising when the truck will be ready, given that not meeting the deadline will greatly detract from the service experience,” said Todd Markusic, senior director of the commercial vehicle practice at J.D. Power and Associates. “The key is managing expectations. Even for repairs that take longer than normal, if they are done within the timeline that was initially provided to the customer, dealers can achieve high levels of service satisfaction.”

The study also finds that engine- or fuel-related problems typically result in the greatest amount of downtime. A truck with an engine or a fuel problem averages eight days of downtime.

“Given that the average annual downtime for a truck is six days, manufacturers who have the fewest engine and fuel issues can have a real competitive advantage due to minimizing the time the truck is out of commission,” said Markusic.

The study, now in its 18th year, measures customer perceptions of 2009 model-year Class 5, 6 and 7 commercial trucks. Within the product segment, six factors are used to determine overall satisfaction: warranty; engine; cost of operation; ride/handling/braking; cab and body; and transmission. The study also measures satisfaction with services received from an authorized truck dealer: dealer facility; service quality, service delivery; service advisor, service initiation; and price.

With a score of 815, Hino ranks highest in customer satisfaction within the conventional truck segment. Hino performs well across all factors driving satisfaction, particularly for engine satisfaction and overall quality. Ford (770) and Peterbilt (760) follow in the product rankings.

Kenworth ranks highest in customer satisfaction with dealer service with a score of 812, performing particularly well in the dealer facility factor. Ford follows in the rankings with 808 points.

The study also finds that Class 5 trucks have the highest quality levels among medium-duty trucks, with a score of 105 problems per 100 trucks (PP100). In comparison, Class 6 trucks average 140 PP100, and Class 7 trucks average 131 PP100.

“The larger trucks—Class 6 and 7 models—tend to be more sophisticated and are used for more demanding applications,” said Markusic. “The greater weight and the more rugged use of these trucks have an adverse effect on quality—quite simply, there is more that can go wrong.”

The 2010 U.S. Medium-Duty Truck Customer Satisfaction Study is based on responses from 1,258 primary maintainers of 2009 model-year Class 5, 6 and 7 conventional cab medium-duty trucks. The study was fielded between June and July 2010.

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