Gauging a company’s customer satisfaction can be tricky. Unhappy customers may be more likely to complain about a company than happy ones are to sing a company’s praises — this is where J.D. Power can help. J.D. Power is a consumer data and analytics company that conducts several annual studies across various industries. J.D. Power studies can prove invaluable whether you are shopping for a new car, switching banks, looking for the best airline or searching for a highly-rated insurance company. Bankrate breaks down J.D. Power so you can better understand how the company collects unbiased consumer reviews and how our insurance editorial team utilizes this information to help you find the best carrier to meet your needs.

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What does J.D. Power do?

J.D. Power specializes in data collection and analytics. Its primary function is to gather information that provides an unbiased picture of a particular industry. It typically uses the data to deliver an analysis of how consumers feel about a particular company or industry. To provide an accurate picture, J.D. Power typically collects responses from consumers who have first-hand experience with the company or product.

J.D. Power studies are thorough. In the case of the annual U.S. Auto Claims Satisfaction Study, policyholder respondents are asked about their car insurance claim experience from start to finish, including the first notice of loss, vehicle repair process and return, and the settlement process for vehicles declared a total loss, when applicable. With insurance studies in particular, J.D. Power aims to understand the general level of customer satisfaction and provide insurance companies insights into where they can improve.

The bulk of its reports are subscriber-based. Clients include some of the “world’s leading businesses,” who can also pay the firm to design and conduct a custom study. However, J.D. Power does publish and publicly release select insights through the company press room, such as the New Vehicle Demand Forecast.

What is J.D. Power?

Michigan-based J.D. Power is a consumer data and analytics company that has been providing detailed, objective studies on a variety of industries since 1968. J.D. Power has humble beginnings, starting at J.D. “Dave” Power III’s kitchen table. His main focus was to collect consumer sentiment about the automotive industry. His services reached editorial acclaim in the 70s after The Wall Street Journal referenced one of the company’s first independently-funded surveys in an article.

J.D. Power began expanding into other industries, although the automotive industry is one of the company’s biggest strengths. Subaru set J.D. Power on the map for the automotive industry in the 80s when it mentioned its J.D. Power rankings during a Super Bowl XVIII commercial. Since then, J.D. Power awards have often been mentioned in ads and commercials around the world.

J.D. Power surveys

J.D. Power is popular largely due to its surveys that tap into extremely valuable consumer insights. Companies need feedback from customers to know what works and what needs improvement. However, customers may be hesitant to provide feedback to a company. J.D. Power is experienced at gathering important customer information.

Certain J.D. Power surveys are conducted and released annually. The information contained in the surveys is presented in an easy-to-understand format, making it simple to pinpoint the companies performing well. Companies receive J.D. Power ratings, or scores, ranking them for a particular sect of the market. Depending on the industry, J.D. Power may categorize companies by region. This seems to provide the most accurate analysis since a national company may perform better in one area versus another.

A J.D. Power award or rating is useful to both the companies receiving the accolades and the consumer in search of information. To earn a J.D. Power award, companies are compared based on several focus areas. For example, if you are shopping for a life insurance company, you know that a carrier that ranks high in the Life Insurance Study received high marks in several categories, including policy options, customer communication, pricing and claims process.

Industries J.D. Power serves

J.D. Power conducts market research for multiple industries. Its industry research can even be used to focus on more specific categories, such as homeowners insurance. The various industries J.D. Power conducts research for include:

  • Auto: Studies may be focused on the state of the car market, vehicle sales and forecasts, customer satisfaction and more.
  • Finance: J.D. Power’s focus on the finance industry includes the growing popularity of fintech, lending and retail banking.
  • Insurance: J.D. Power’s annual studies on various insurance industries are invaluable. They cover the automotive, home and life insurance fields.
  • Healthcare: J.D. Power conducts studies and data analysis about Medicare and other healthcare topics.
  • Travel: The company’s customer satisfaction studies include ratings for airlines, rental car companies and hotels.

Why J.D. Power is credible

J.D. Power studies are considered to be objective because they encompass sweeping data instead of small data sets. Its studies are based on a wide range of responses from consumers nationwide and often include analysis on multiple companies for comparison.

According to its mission statement, J.D. Power operates with a goal of being a “truth finder.” Its statement continues, “At J.D. Power, we are proud of the unbiased data and findings we provide. As individuals, each and every member of our team is dedicated to living this same objectivity and embodying the highest ethical and professional standards – the only ‘favorite’ we have is the truth.”

How Bankrate uses J.D. Power

Bankrate often references J.D. Power scores as a barometer of how customers feel about a particular carrier. Similar to J.D. Power, Bankrate collects both quantitative and qualitative data about certain companies and finds ways to classify the information in ways readers can understand and use for comparison. Bankrate may also use customer complaint data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) and financial strength ratings from AM Best and Moody’s, two top credit-rating agencies.

Some of the J.D. Power annual surveys most widely referenced by Bankrate’s insurance editorial team include:

  • J.D. Power Auto Claims Study: The study provides insights from policyholders about which companies handle car insurance claims best.
  • J.D. Power Auto Insurance Study: This annual study groups customer satisfaction for different carriers into regions such as New England, Southwest, Texas, California, Florida and more.
  • J.D. Power Home Insurance Study: This study provides information about what carriers customers are happiest with when it comes to homeowners or renters insurance.
  • J.D. Power Insurance Digital Experience Study: In an increasingly digital world, fully functional mobile apps and glitch-free online policy management portals are essential for some insurance shoppers. The J.D. Power digital experience study gauges how easy it is to do business with carriers online in both the shopping and customer service categories.
  • J.D. Power Insurance Shopping Study: Shopping for insurance is not always simple. However, the insurance companies that make this list are among the most successful and innovative at providing a positive experience.