Maritz Research Helps Hyundai Dealers Uncover What “Makes or Breaks” Customer Satisfaction

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Maritz Research partners with Hyundai Auto Canada Corp. to determine what drives true customer satisfaction, specifically for Hyundai sales and service customers.

Auto dealers can invest millions of dollars in customer satisfaction programs, but if one element of the sales experience goes poorly, it can ruin the entire sale. That leaves dealers asking: What went wrong? How do I measure the “right” aspects of customer satisfaction? And what should I improve upon so I can see real progress in my business?

To answer these questions for the automotive industry, Maritz Research partnered with Hyundai Auto Canada Corp. to determine what drives true customer satisfaction, specifically for Hyundai sales and service customers. This proprietary technique, called Make or Break Customer Satisfaction, was presented by Maritz at the 2013 ESOMAR Global Automotive Research Forum in Wolfsburg, Germany, and delves into the extremes of customer satisfaction surveys – from exemplary to catastrophic – to better understand how positive and negative customer experiences affect the dealerships, and ultimately, the manufacturers.

Within the Make or Break methodology, two very different customer reactions are examined:

1.    The Reward Effect: When outstanding performance in one area outweighs shortcomings in other areas, resulting in a truly exceptional overall experience.
2.    The Punishment (or Non-Compensatory) Effect: When poor performance in just one area penalizes the brand or company severely, even if they perform well in all other areas.

“A customer can buy a car at a good price from an extremely helpful and professional salesperson at a reputable dealership, but if that car has a dent in it when the customer picks it up – we see ‘The Punishment Effect.’ In this simplistic example, that one negative outweighs everything else,” said Chris Travell, vice president of strategic consulting for the Automotive Research Group at Maritz Research. “This customer response may seem intuitive, but what makes the Make or Break technique different is that we can quantify the relationship and determine its impact on dealerships’ future sales, services and referrals.”

In more than 25 case studies across several industries, the Make or Break approach more accurately predicted what areas companies needed to focus on to improve the customer experience compared to traditional research methodologies.

“The predictive power of the Make or Break methodology means dealers can use their resources more efficiently to invest in areas that actually impact the bottom line,” said Kevin Lattery, vice president of marketing sciences at Maritz Research. “We’ve found that people expect good customer service. In those cases, doing something well may not provide a huge lift to customer satisfaction scores, but customers can still punish dealers severely for not doing something well – and the penalty for poor service can be seven times greater than the reward.”

To determine what customers value most, Maritz Research and Hyundai Auto Canada collaborated on a consumer study*, which identified the drivers of buyer satisfaction for Hyundai’s sales and service customers. The top three include:

Sales Experience
1.    Professionalism and courtesy toward the customer
2.    Ease of agreement in making the deal
3.    Full disclosure of charges and fees

Vehicle Services
1.    Thoroughness of the work performed
2.    Correct diagnosis of the problem
3.    Time to complete the service

“All customers have very high expectations when they shop for a new vehicle and they demand exceptional quality, reliability and durability. That’s really the cost of entry into the auto industry,” said Steve Kelleher, President and CEO of Hyundai Auto Canada. “The next battlefield in the fight for auto sales is in the showroom. If we can give our customers a better experience, we’re going to be more likely to sell them a vehicle, and have them come back to us to get it serviced.”

Make or Break analyzes each aspect of the sales and service experience with greater precision than what has previously been available. “This helps management understand what drives customer satisfaction and more importantly – dissatisfaction. It really is a breakthrough technique,” notes Travell. “It gives the dealers a plan or roadmap they can follow to ensure their staff is aligned with what the customer values. They can capitalize on those areas that are most important to customers in driving satisfaction and they can focus on those areas that result in dissatisfaction, so that critical issues can be resolved immediately.”

To learn more about Maritz Research’s Make or Break Customer Satisfaction model, visit For additional insights, visit Maritz Research’s automotive blog at

About Maritz Research
As one of the world’s largest marketing research firms Maritz Research, a unit of Maritz, helps many of today’s most successful companies improve performance through a deep understanding of their customers, employees and channel partners. Founded in 1973, it offers a range of strategic and tactical solutions concentrating primarily in the automotive, financial services, hospitality, technology, telecommunications, restaurant and retail industries. The company has achieved ISO 20252 registration, the international symbol of quality. It is a member of CASRO, ESOMAR and MRA. Check out the Maritz Research blog at For more information, visit or call 877-4MARITZ.

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*More than 51,000 Hyundai customers were surveyed regarding their car sales experience, and more than 25,000 customers shared insights with Maritz Research into their vehicle servicing experience at Hyundai dealerships.

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Kathy Randall
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