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Mercedes-Benz on top of shopping survey

Study finds many makers losing frustrated customers.

by on Jul.14, 2009

It takes more than a good deal to win over a potential customer, reveals a new study.

It takes more than a good deal to win over a potential customer, reveals a new study.

A happy customer, it’s been said, is a repeat customer.  Yet a surprising number of automakers and their dealers seem to almost go out of their way to frustrate potential buyers, sending them scampering over to the competition.

That’s a key finding of the Prospect Satisfaction Index, an annual study by the California research firm, Pied Piper.  It reveals that Mercedes-Benz dealerships ranked highest in the newly released 2009 PSI, which looks at hidden facets of sales process, and how lookers are converted into serious prospects.

“Nine out of ten car shoppers walk back out a dealership’s door without buying,” said O’Hagan, who adds that, “The tough economic climate of the past year has clearly encouraged salespeople to be more helpful to the majority of shoppers who aren’t yet ready to buy, but still need help narrowing-down their selection.”

The Prospect Satisfaction Index looks at all manner of details in the way a manufacturer, through its dealers, interacts with customers at a showroom level – everything from the cleanliness of restrooms to the level of information a salesperson provides.

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Not surprisingly, perhaps, the findings indicate luxury brands come off the best, with Mercedes in first place, followed by Lexus and Jaguar.  The exception is Saturn, which ranked fourth, ahead of the British marque, Land Rover.  Saturn has long been known for a customer-friendly sales and service process, one reason General Motors found a ready buyer for the brand in Roger Penske, who will take over its operations in the months to come.

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