Customer Satisfaction With Dealers On the Rise

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Customer satisfaction with the motorcycle ownership experience has increased for the sixth year in a row to a record high level, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2008 Motorcycle Competitive Information study released Dec. 17.

Overall motorcycle ownership satisfaction averaged 814 (based on a 1,000-point scale) in the last year, up five points from 2007. The most notable increases occurred in cost of ownership and product quality. About 18 percent of owners were extremely pleased with the cost of owning their motorcycles, and 30 percent of respondents said that the value they received for the price paid was "outstanding."

Product quality improved primarily due to a decrease in owner-reported troubles. More than 40 percent of respondents cited a "problem-free" experience with their rides, according to the survey.

"Despite the fact that owners report paying 14 percent more for their motorcycles this year, they are also more satisfied with the value received for the money spent," says Tim Fox, research manager of the company's powersports practice. "There are several motorcycle models with a higher price point that owners have indicated are a particularly good value for the money. This demonstrates that if you make a superior product, consumers are willing to pay a higher price for it because they believe it to be an excellent value."

On the flip side, J.D. Power and Associates claims that the motorcycle industry is not making enough of an effort to attract younger, first-time buyers. "Since 2001 the average age of motorcycle owners has increased from 40 to 47 years," Fox says. "This indicates that the current population of motorcycle buyers is aging and a large proportion of these owners is likely to soon exit the market.

"Because first-time motorcycle buyers comprise 22 percent of all new motorcycle purchases, it is critical for manufacturers to focus on attracting first-time and younger buyers, primarily those in the Gen X and Y demographics, in order to ensure continued growth in this market," he adds.

OTHER FINDINGS:

  • 79 percent of owners visiting a dealer for service work report that the repairs were done correctly the first time (an increase of four points from the 2007 survey).
  • The two product-related problems that have the greatest negative impact on overall customer satisfaction are 1) rough paint and 2) engines that overheat. Additional product problems that frustrate the consumer include gearshift issues, not enough power, and the ride being either too stiff or too soft.

The 2008 Motorcycle Competitive Information Study includes reponses from 7,334 owners who purchased new on-road or dual-sport motorcycles between September 2007 and May 2008. Owners were surveyed in September and October 2008.