JD Power customer retention survey hammers Saab owner loyalty

I think this is a blip, but there’s no doubt it’s a big, black blip.

The latest JD Power Customer Retention Survey shows what 12-18 months of overwhelmingly negative news, uncertainty and a damning news cycle can do in a market that’s big on leasing and regular turnover. Leasing can be great because it makes it easier for a customer to buy, but it also makes it easier for a customer to change and for Saab, the proof lies in the chart below.

Click.

As you can see, Saab comes in dead last with a customer retention figure of just 4%. This is disastrously low, especially for a brand that prides itself so much on the loyalty and love of former owners.

Now in its eighth year, the study measures the rate at which automotive brands retain their existing customers and the reasons why owners remain loyal. Customer retention is critical to a brand’s market success, particularly during the current period of slow recovery, in which each new-vehicle sale is vital.

The study finds that the importance of fun-to-drive vehicles as a reason for owner loyalty has increased by eight percentage points in 2010, compared with 2009. Meanwhile, the importance of resale value as a reason to stay loyal has decreased by 10 percentage points from 2009.

From what we know of the news stories surrounding Saab for all of 2009 and most of 2010, “Fun to Drive” was probably not so important for Saab customers as “Is the company still alive?”

The 2010 Customer Retention Study is based on responses from 123,601 new-vehicle buyers and lessees, of which 81,350 replaced a vehicle that was previously acquired new. The study was fielded between February and May and August and October 2010.

This is an especially bad result, but I regard it as a blip because it has to be viewed against a backdrop of extraordinary circumstances.

As mentioned earlier, Saab most likely lost a whole cycle of leasing customers between mid-2009 and mid-2010 and the struggle for Saab to get the word out about their very existence in the USA has been well documented here in the last couple of weeks.

I guess it just highlights exactly how much work has to be done. Yes, we need more Steve and Lori’s in this Saab world, but Saab also needs to get the message out to them with compelling product offerings and effective marketing.

benrp
Guest
benrp
5 years 9 months ago

I guess there has been nothing to retain in the last 18 months but hopefully next year it will improve. Also disapointing to see my second favorite brand Jaguar come second last.

J Fan
Guest
J Fan
5 years 9 months ago

Just Saab are nowhere at the moment. They’re not on people’s radars at all 🙁

Kroum
Guest
5 years 9 months ago

How is this calculated? Overlap this over a “number of cars sold” chart and you’ve got a near-perfect match. Doesn’t look scientific. How would a one-year young brand such as Ram have higher retention rates than established ones?

JeremyP
Guest
JeremyP
5 years 9 months ago
It didn’t help matters that we had no lease program from August 2008 through this past spring here in the USA. Almost 2 years of turning our backs on that segment of the market can’t have helped this figure. Along with that gap, most of the leases that were written in the time leading up to the cut off weren’t nearly as competetive as previous lease contracts. We had customers coming back for (literally!) the same car and the payment could be $100+ a month higher than their out going 9-3/9-5 contract. Not good when some of these people could… Read more »
100%Saab
Guest
100%Saab
5 years 9 months ago

I bought my 9-3SS in September 2008 with cash and my 2009 9-3XWD in January. So, no I didn’t lease a Saab in 2010, but I’d say my retention rate is 100%. The JD Power forms usually go into the trash.

saabdude
Guest
saabdude
5 years 9 months ago

“It didn’t help matters that we had no lease program from August 2008 through this past spring here in the USA.”

Absolutely correct.

When the lease on my ’08 9-5 SC Aero expired last December 29th, I had no choice but to lease another brand…an Audi A5 in my case.

These results shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.

wm
Guest
wm
5 years 9 months ago

Well–nowhere to go but up at this point.

Nathan 9⁵
Guest
Nathan 9⁵
5 years 9 months ago

Since when is RAM an auto manufacturer? I thought Ram was a model of Dodge trucks. There’s something very wrong with this chart.

Jim Haynes
Guest
5 years 9 months ago
This is not a slap in the face ….. It is a reflection of reality…. Saab was absent from the US market for two years. Regardless of customer intent it was impossible for them to remain loyal. Leasing absolutely effected these numbers. As a Saab dealer, I held the hand of many Saab loyalist who had leases expire, during the period of uncertainty (the valley of death). Regardless of intended loyalty, these lessees were effectively denied the right to extend their Saab (GMAC) leases while waiting to order a new Saab. Imagine the conversation with the $10.00 per hour GMAC… Read more »
saabdude
Guest
saabdude
5 years 9 months ago

“The GMAC employee demanded a GM order number as a requirement to extend the Saab lease for one month even though GM would not accept new Saab orders. A “catch 22″ and far from a premium ownership experience creating loyalty !!!!”

Precisely what happened in my case. And again…as stated above…that’s why I leased an Audi A5. My first non-SAAB in 33 years. We still OWN 3 others, however. 🙂

Brad
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Brad
5 years 9 months ago

Jim,have you all been selling any Saabs at all or leasing since Spyker bought the brand?

hughw
Guest
hughw
5 years 9 months ago
Yup. The dark days were dark. My lease expires in February, this year. I gulped and went ahead with a purchase because leases weren’t available for a new 9-3combi. I had asked to extend my lease to see how things played out and GM would have none of it. They said I could buy my car off lease but asked a ridiculous price for a car with 54,000 miles. In fact, the purchase price of the new cars was only a couple thousand more than they were asking from me for the old one. I hope that got good and… Read more »
Jim
Guest
Jim
5 years 9 months ago

Don’t worry, they did. Unrealistic “residual” values are the only way they could offer a competitive lease, anyway. It’s still obviously not a totally reasonable way to do business.

Here’s hoping the dealers out there get lots of customers. Saab’s dealers are commendable for sticking with the brand IMO.

saabdude
Guest
saabdude
5 years 9 months ago

“I hope that got good and truly burned when they went to resell it on the used car market.”

I know that GMAC did with my ’08 9-5 SC Aero. I saw it turn up on cars.com at a dealer in Connecticut three months after I turned it back in…selling at RETAIL, for what my buyout number was. And that was nearly USD$29k.

It did sell fast, however. It had every option on it except the Nav system, plus a few dealer installed accessories as well. The car was gorgeous…and I miss her.

Chris hansel
Guest
Chris hansel
5 years 9 months ago
I’m one of those non- purchase, return the car,units being discussed here. In place of buying the leased Saab, a very nice 9-3 SS coupe. We turned it in. Why? Becuase GMAC would not sell the car anywhere near market price. They wanted about $ 4000 above Blue Book which is one of the standards in the US. So we let it go, and within two weeks picked up a 2007 Combi, which my wife now drives and loves very much. Also GMAC had some rebate program which didn’t apply to us for some reason. GMAC is responible for these… Read more »
Paddan
Guest
Paddan
5 years 9 months ago

Same story here on a 2007 9-5 60th Anniversary combi. I bought my present 9-3 Aero SC XWD after going to a Mini Cooper for 4 awful months because the buyout of my 9-5 was 4k over book and GMAC would not negotiate.

saabdude
Guest
saabdude
5 years 9 months ago

+2

Per
Guest
Per
5 years 9 months ago

In Norway it is still very difficult/expenisive to
lease a Saab. The return value is too low so the
turne out as a bad deal.

Bravada from GMI
Guest
5 years 9 months ago

Saab USA knows the other 96%. They should have their addresses, phones, emails, personal data and know what cars they bought and how much. I hope they have made sure all of those 96% have been PERSONALLY conctacted – not by email, post or contact centre, but personally approached by their local Saab dealer, invited for a talk over a cup of coffee and prinsesstårta about Saab’s past perils, future and the customer’s automotive choices and needs, and how and when Saab and the dealer will be able to put them on the road in a Saab again.

Me
Guest
Me
5 years 9 months ago

Bravada,
those are big hopes !!!

But yes, Saab (in general) should try to contact the former Saab customers VM used to speak about as being the ones Saab needed to be profitable once again.

So, I hope it too. It may help 🙂

Ubermich
Guest
Ubermich
5 years 9 months ago

I can guarantee 100% that this isn’t happening in the DFW, TX area (pop. 6,447,615 – http://www.census.gov/popest/metro/tables/2009/CBSA-EST2009-01.csv ), where Sewell still holds the brand but is refusing to do anything with it. It’s actually almost comical, the saabusa.com site shows Sewell Grapevine, Plano, and Dallas as the local dealerships (try ZIP code 76051) and links to their websites, but the Sewell website no longer lists Saab as one of their brands – having replaced it with Subaru and Audi.

Can you say massive metropolitan area not being reached?

Bravada from GMI
Guest
5 years 9 months ago

In terms of the website giving the impression the brand is going out of business, this is a MAJOR blunder. How else to tell your customers your brand is winding down than to link to a large dealer who’ll offer them a Subaru or Audi instead. I do hope an urgent search for other Texas dealers to take over BOTH sales AND servicing ASAP is needed. The Audi and Subaru sales guys aren’t going to tell the people coming in for service to go to a Saab dealer for their next car!

Nathan 9⁵
Guest
Nathan 9⁵
5 years 9 months ago

Here in the El Paso area, which is a TriState region, with a combined population of over 2 million, our Saab dealer closed its doors Spring ’09. A beautiful, huge, full service stand alone dealership. Now it’s a Subaru Jaguar Audi dealership. Such a shame. And there’s a huge population of Saab owners here without so much as an indy shop to go to. Next nearest dealer is in Albuquerque, NM, a 3+ hour drive. WHY Saab? Why?

Ned
Guest
Ned
5 years 9 months ago
No doubt the company’s potential demise and lack of leasing contributed to the low retention, but don’t forget the product. As we all know, until the new 9-5, Saab was saddled with a late 1990’s era 9-5, and the 9-3 is now about eight years old. Even without the existential problems and economic crisis, that is not a formula for customer retention. Despite some bright spots like the wonderful V6 powered 9-3 Aeros, the cars were simply not competitive by 2008-2009. The poor reliability records don’t help. So, when the time came to leave my beloved 2001 9-5 Aero in… Read more »
Bravada from GMI
Guest
5 years 9 months ago

What’s with the poor reliability? I hope you’re referring to the old 9-5 – the 9-3 has been one of Europe’s most reliable cars since the facelift. Have you had any problems with it?

Hearing that the humble Honda Accordion makes the 9-3 feel “primitive” made me choke….

Kingrichardsaab
Guest
Kingrichardsaab
5 years 9 months ago
Guess I was one of the luckier Saab leasers. My 2008 9-3 SS (black) lease was up this past July ( 2010). I was able to lease a new 2010 9-3 (silver snow) SS, with more goodies (blue tooth, paddle shifters etc.) for $10 less a month. I had the same problem as you others though with my GMAC lease end. Wanted to buy the 2008, but the buy-out price was almost as much as a NEW 2010. So for me, it was a no brainer to just lease a 2010, and let the 2008 go back to GMAC with… Read more »
ivo 71
Guest
ivo 71
5 years 9 months ago

Doesn’t the USA have some type of institute where you can lodge a complaint about age discrimination?

Ivo

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