Mitsubishi improves by two rank positions from 2008 to rank highest in overall new-vehicle sales satisfaction in the Philippines, according to the J.D. Power Asia Pacific 2009 Philippines Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) Study.

Now in its ninth year, the study measures new-vehicle owner satisfaction with sales and delivery experience and examines seven key factors that contribute to overall satisfaction. In order of importance, these factors are delivery process; delivery timing; salesperson; paperwork; deal; sales initiation; and dealer facility.

Mitsubishi ranks highest with a score of 841 on a 1,000-point scale, performing particularly well in the delivery process factor. Honda, Mazda, Chevrolet, Kia, and Toyota respectively, follow in the rankings, and are performing above the industry average. Overall industry satisfaction in 2009 averages 833, a 10-point decline from 2008. The factors with the largest declines from 2008 are delivery timing and delivery process.

The study finds that despite an overall reduction in delivery timing-down to an average of 4 days from 4.9 days in 2008-customers have higher expectations regarding delivery timing in 2009, compared with 2008. On average, customers who say delivery timing is "about as expected" receive their vehicles in 3.9 days, compared with 5.4 days in 2008. Similarly, customers who receive their vehicles in 12.9 days say their experience is "worse than expected." This measure was considerably longer in 2008-an average of 13.7 days.

"Overall vehicle sales in the Philippines have declined by approximately 3,000 units between August 2008 and February 2009, compared with the same period the year before," said Taku Kimoto, general manager for the Philippines at J.D. Power Asia Pacific, Singapore. "With the reduction in demand, manufacturers are in a better position to improve their delivery timing. However, this positive outcome is marginalized as buyers tend to set even higher standards during an economic downturn. Buyers have more bargaining power in a severe crisis such as this, particularly in the automotive sector."

The study also finds a shift in customer satisfaction among non-determined customers. Among this group of customers, satisfaction averages 10 points below the industry average. Additionally, 86 percent of non-determined customers visit dealerships of two or more brands, compared with approximately half of pre-determined customers who do the same. In addition to more visits to the dealerships, non-determined customers are also more likely to take up loans, as well as receive discounts.

"Manufacturers should pay more attention to the non-determined group of shoppers, which currently comprise nearly 30 percent of customers," said Kimoto. "Non-determined customers shop around more often than their counterparts and naturally, tend to compare their options more often-making them harder to please. This group also tends to be more price-conscious, creating a challenge for manufacturers to convince these customers that they have made the right choice."

The study also finds that customer satisfaction with the overall purchase experience has a strong impact on dealer loyalty. Approximately 80 percent of "delighted" customers say they definitely would have their vehicle serviced at the purchase dealer, compared with just 39 percent among disappointed customers.

The 2009 Philippines Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) Study is based on the responses of more than 1,400 new-vehicle owners who purchased their vehicles between August 2008 and February 2009. The study was fielded between February and April 2009. The SSI Study is one of two consumer-based studies conducted annually in the Philippines by J.D. Power Asia Pacific. The 2009 Philippines Customer Service Index (CSI) Study, which measures new-vehicle owner satisfaction with after-sales dealership service, was released in June.