COSTA MESA, Calif. -

Along with finding that service quality continues to be a key driver of customer satisfaction among consumers, the J.D. Power 2018 U.S. Customer Service Index (CSI) Study released Thursday found that younger customers who their vehicle serviced are more likely to rely on recommendations from friends or family.

Nine percent of Gen Y car buyers select a dealer for maintenance or repair work based on recommendations, compared to just 5 percent of Boomers who more often rely on prior experience and convenience of location.

That was just one finding from J.D. Power's CSI Study, which measures customer satisfaction with service among owners and lessees of 1- to 3-year-old vehicles visiting both franchised dealers and independent service facilities.

Overall, the study found that there was a 12-index-point increase in satisfaction from a year ago. 

J.D. Power also added a new metric this year: the Net Promoter Score (NPS), that measures customer loyalty and predicts business growth.

“There’s a strong link between a brand’s CSI score and its Net Promoter Score,” said Chris Sutton, who is the J.D. Power vice president for the U.S. automotive retail practice, in a news release.

“When a customer is happy with the service a dealer provides them, they’re more likely to tell their friends and family members about it. This experience creates promoters for the vehicle brand who are more likely to return to a dealer for repairs and common services like oil changes and replacement of batteries, brakes and tires. Increasing the number of brand advocates is the pathway to growth for dealers looking to generate repeat business and bring in new business based on positive word-of-mouth,” Sutton said.

“It’s also good news for manufacturers because satisfied customers tend to stay with a brand and bring others with them,” Sutton added. “Anything less opens the door for customers to shop elsewhere.”

Another finding: the study also suggests that dealers can benefit from offering effective online scheduling tools for service visits — and getting the word out about online scheduling in the first place.

While younger and older customers may differ when it comes to the most common reasons they choose a dealer for service, using the internet to schedule service has increased for all generations, according to the study.

Almost 24 percent of Gen Y customers were found to schedule their service via the internet, compared with just 10 percent of Pre-Boomers. 

Moving on to brand rankings, Infiniti posted a score of 876 out of 1,000 to top all luxury brands for satisfaction with dealer service for the first time in 15 years. 

Meanwhile, Buick ranks highest among mass market brands for a second consecutive year, with a score of 850.

In a tie, mass market brands, Chevrolet and MINI rank second (849), followed by GMC (843) and Volkswagen (828).

Fielded in 2017, from October-December, the 2018 CSI study is based on responses from 74,021 owners and lessees with 2015 to 2017 model-year vehicles.