Customers Are Really Not Impressed With Kia Dealers

The latest J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction survey placed the Korean brand dead last.

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Photo: Silas Stein/picture-alliance/dpa (AP)

It would seem that Kia dealers have some work to do for the sake of the customers. A recent J.D. Power study shows that customers haven’t been enjoying the Kia dealer experience, which is kind of essential to selling cars. Those interactions and impressions have landed the Korean automaker dead last in customer satisfaction across all mass-market brands.

Image for article titled Customers Are Really Not Impressed With Kia Dealers
Image: J.D. Power

Around 37,000 dealer customers received the annual survey, where they were asked to judge their experience at the respective dealer from the time they walked onto the lot — through getting the keys and driving into the sunset. Out of 16 mass-market brands, Kia came in dead last scoring 754 on a 1,000-point scale. J.D. Power says the industry average is 782.


What’s interesting when you take into account the fact that Kia reps at both the corporate and the dealer level can’t seem to agree on what’s behind this low rating. Kia’s chief operating officer for the U.S., Steve Center, spoke to Wards Auto at the LA Auto Show, “That is absolutely the most unacceptable business outcome. We don’t want to be Sears,” he said. While he didn’t provide an exact layout on what dealers should do to improve he did say they don’t have a choice but to improve. “They have to find a way to meet customer expectations.”

But there is still a disconnect between dealers and corporate. While an executive can say that dealers must improve their customer service, there’s not much they can do to make them improve because of dealer franchise laws. The dealers want to be left alone even though there’s clear evidence they dont have the customer’s interest in mind when they step foot in a dealership. From markups that could help to neuter some of its hottest products, to outright fraud from dealer employees. Kia customers may be satisfied with their vehicles. But that satisfaction can’t come until people feel comfortable enough to even talk to you about their interest in your vehicles.