The Columbus Dispatch

JD Power survey ranks Ford among worst

Customer service suffers in the latest index study

- Phoebe Wall Howard

Customers seeking car repairs have experience­d a dip in satisfacti­on overall for the first time in nearly three decades, and Ford Motor Co. – despite touting its dealer model as a competitiv­e advantage – ranked among the worst, according to the 2023 J.D. Power U.S. Customer Service Index Study released Thursday.

Overall, the top rankings went to Lexus in the premium category and Mitsubishi in the mass market category. Lexus ranks the highest in customer satisfacti­on with service at dealership­s or aftermarke­t facilities among all brands for the second year in a row, according to J.D. Power.

Ford and Lincoln customers failed to give top ratings in any category, including trucks. Ford CEO Jim Farley and other executives at the Dearborn automaker have said repeatedly that its dealer network is the key to success in the future and good customer service is crucial to its overall strategy.

Meanwhile, crosstown rival General Motors ranked in all top categories with its Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC and Buick brands. Cadillac SUV owners tied with Porsche on excellent vehicle service.

The study, conducted August through December last year, is based on responses from 64,248 verified registered owners and lessees of 2020 through 2022 model-year vehicles. This 43rd study measures satisfacti­on with service at franchised dealer or aftermarke­t service facilities for maintenanc­e or repair work. The owner service areas are measured with a 1,000-point scale that measures: service quality (32%); service adviser (19%); vehicle pickup (19%); service facility (15%) and service initiation (15%).

Top-ranked premium brands

● Lexus (900)

● Porsche (880)

● Cadillac (879)

● Infiniti (878)

Top-ranked mass market brands

● Mitsubishi (884)

● Mazda (870)

● Buick (867)

Top-ranked premium SUVS

● Lexus (900)

● Cadillac and Porsche (880)

Top-ranked trucks

● Nissan (886)

● Chevrolet (851) ● GMC (843)

Ford is a leader in truck sales and has taken pride in its dominance of the truck segment. Chevrolet is a direct rival with the Silverado, which emerges with an electric version this year. Meanwhile, Ford ranks below Toyota (839) and ties for last with Ram (823).

Top-ranked cars, SUVS, minivans (mass market)

● Mitsubishi Suv/minivan (884)

● Mazda Suv/minivan (872)

● Buick Suv/minivan (867)

● Subaru car (866)

● Mazda car (863)

● Honda car (855)

What are customers saying?

Owners of battery electric vehicles (EVS) rank their customer service 42

points lower than owners of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, the study shows. J.D. Power noted that customers with EVS are twice as likely to have had problems related to recalls. Plus, service advisers and technician­s need more training on electric vehicles they’re servicing, the survey showed.

“The industry has been hyper-focused on launches and now these customers are bringing their electric vehicles in for maintenanc­e and repairs,” Chris Sutton, vice president of automotive retail at J.D. Power, said in a news release. “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.”

Key findings

● Overall, customer satisfacti­on declines 23 points when an owner must take their vehicle for a recall repair.

● Owners want dealership updates through text messages but only 21% of dealers text while 17% call.

● Appointmen­t wait times, which are tied to staffing and parts shortages, are getting longer and annoying customers. It’s now 5.6 days for premium vehicles and 4.8 days for mass market vehicles.

Tesla is not ranked in this study because there wasn’t data available from all states, J.D. Power said.

What’s happening with Ford?

Ford and Lincoln ranked below average in mass market brand, premium brand, mass market Suv/minivan, premium SUVS, and trucks.

While Ford has built popular vehicles during the model years highlighte­d in this latest survey, the automaker was also plagued with recalls on vehicles including Mustang Mach-e, Bronco Sport, Escape, Explorer, Maverick, Lincoln Aviator and Corsair.

Ford has been struggling to get its recall and warranty costs under control. The company shut down Lightning production in early February to figure out a battery fire that begin in a holding lot in


“Ford has a lot of exciting initiative­s – mobile service and commercial service centers. However, penetratio­n of these as part of 2022 service events was low,” Sutton told the Detroit Free Press. “Ford is a very large volume brand with incredibly broad network coverage. It takes time to implement these changes at scale.

Ford spokesman Said Deep told the Free Press on Thursday, “We’re working with our dealer partners to provide the support and resources needed to improve the service and ownership experience for our customers. Providing convenient service options for our customers, like nationwide compliment­ary Pickup and Delivery and Mobile Service, continues to be a top priority.”

The latest study measures feedback from customers after three years of ownership. EVS still make up a small percentage of the volume, so the feedback from those customers is considered an “early warning,” Sutton said.

Contact Phoebe Wall Howard: 313618-1034 or Read more about Ford. Follow her on Twitter @phoebesaid.

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