The used car salesman stereotype usually depicts a rather unsavory character often on the lookout to take advantage of his next victim—I mean customer. It’s an unfair stigma that many dealerships in the retail automotive industry have worked very diligently to change. Fortunately for auto dealers, it looks like their hard work is beginning to pay off.

According to a recent Maritz Research CEBenchmarks study released earlier this year, the auto industry is outperforming several other industries, including retail and wireless services, when it comes to providing a quality customer service experience.

Of the consumers surveyed, 74.9 percent said they were satisfied with their automotive service. When asked about what influences their satisfaction, consumers sited dealership honesty as the most important factor.

For a detailed summary of Maritz’s research, check out the infographic they created to supplement the executive summary:

 

These results clearly demonstrate the correlation between customer service and the bottom line. Dealership personnel who view customers as more than just transactions are well-positioned to create stronger relationships with vehicle buyers, leading to higher customer satisfaction. In fact, according to J.D. Power and Associates, customer satisfaction has the ability to enhance dealer and manufacturer profitability by improving customer retention, even as sales decline.

It’s no secret that loyal customers are the best advocates for dealers and lead to more referrals. Consumers who have a positive experience are more likely to recommend the dealership to others—but the opposite is also true. Customers who have a negative brand experience are likely to tell everyone they know about their bad experience and detract business from the company. So in a world where word-of-mouth marketing can easily trump corporate advertising, positive customer experiences do matter.