Customer Satisfaction Down in 2010

Industry has room for improvement

By Motorcycle.Com Staff, Dec. 16, 2010
New motorcycle owners are less satisfied than they were a year ago, according to a report by J.D. Power and Associates.

The annual U.S. Motorcycle Competitive Information Study by J.D. Power and Associates measures customer satisfaction on a 1,000-point scale based on various factors. According to the 2010 study, the industry scored an average of 827 points, down from the 838 points measured in the 2009 study, the highest overall score in the studys 13-year history.

The study examined six major factors to determine the overall score: product, build quality, cost of ownership, sales, service and warranty. Responses were collected from 8,490 owners who purchased a new 2009 or 2010 on-road or dual-sport motorcycle from September 2009 to May 2010.

The results identified a number of best practices common to manufacturers and dealers that generated higher satisfaction scores, such as managing owner expectations through proactive communication (including following up after a sales visit) and providing personal service (including making the servicing process easier for the customer). When these best practices such as these are met, customers gave an average satisfaction score of 878. By comparison, when these practices are not delivered, satisfactions cores averaged only 752 points.

In an industry currently confronted with limited consumer spending, it is to the advantage of motorcycle manufacturers and dealerships to identify and implement the best practices that satisfy owners that may lead to higher revenue, says Dennis Goodman, senior research manager of the powersports practice at J.D. Power and Associates. Slightly more than one-half of motorcycle owners state that their brand missed on two or more best practices, indicating that there is room for improvement across the industry.

Customers are more likely to recommend a brand or make another purchase with the same brand when best practices are delivered.

Another metric used by the study is the number of problems per 100 motorcycles (PP100). According to the 2010 study, customers reported a score of 152 problems per 100 motorcycles. By comparison, the 2009 study reported an average of 126 problems per 100 motorcycles. Half of all owners in the 2010 study reported at least one problem with their motorcycle, with engine-related issues being the most common issue (44%).

The study also re-affirmed the fact the motorcycle buying population is aging. The average age of a motorcycle buyer has increased from 40 to 49 since 2001. First-time motorcycle buyers are also down for the second consecutive year.

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