Motorcycle satifaction increases to record-level

Overall satisfaction with the motorcycle ownership experience increases for a seventh consecutive year to its highest level yet, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2009 Motorcycle Competitive Information Study released today.

The study finds that overall motorcycle ownership satisfaction averages 838 on a 1,000-point scale in 2009, up 24 points from 2008. Satisfaction improves across all five factors measured in the study-product; quality; cost of ownership; sales; and service-with the most substantial increases occurring in the sales and service factors.

In addition, product quality has improved compared with 2008, primarily due to a decrease in the number of engine and braking/ride problems experienced. On average, the overall number of problems reported is 126 problems per 100 vehicles (PP100), which is an improvement of 26 PP100 since 2008.

"Given that industry sales are down roughly 30 percent during the past year, manufacturers are competing more than ever for every customer," said Todd Markusic, senior director of the powersports practice at J.D. Power and Associates. "The result of this increased competition is that the quality and performance of bikes is at an all-time high, and dealers are paying much more attention to their customers’ sales and service experiences."

The study also finds that dealers may positively impact satisfaction with the sales aspect of the ownership experience by following up with their customers after the sale. On average, the sales satisfaction score among customers who received a follow-up phone call is 170 points higher than among those who did not get a follow-up call.

"The follow-up phone call is a simple concept that may have a significant impact on customers’ sales or service experiences," said Markusic. "While it might seem that calling customers after a visit would be standard practice for dealers, 20 percent of customers don’t receive a call after a new bike purchase and 56 percent don’t receive a call after having their bike serviced."

Motorcycle owners who take their bike to a dealer for maintenance or repair-related service work present dealers with an opportunity to make a lasting impression, as the length of time a motorcycle is in for service greatly impacts overall service satisfaction. The average repair time for maintenance work is one day, while the typical repair takes three days to complete. Dealers who are able to complete repairs in less than three days may benefit greatly, as their customers tend to be significantly more satisfied with their service experience. The average satisfaction score among customers who have a repair completed in less than three days is 857, compared with 753 among those who receive their bike back in three days or more.

The 2009 Motorcycle Competitive Information Study, now in its 12th year, includes responses from nearly 8,000 owners who purchased a new 2009 model year on-road or dual-sport motorcycle between September 2008 and May 2009. The study was fielded August through October 2009.