How are you using Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) survey results? If you are like most dealerships, you are simply tracking CSI results. Each month you hope to stay “in the green” or above regional and national levels so that you can cash in on manufacturer incentives. Heck, you may even penalize or fire employees that don’t meet these levels. Unfortunately, you are not alone…  Somewhere along the line, the original intent of CSI surveys – to drive customer experience – has been lost.

How do you use CSI survey results?

We still believe that the CSI surveys should be used to drive customer experience.  In other words, you should actively gather customer feedback so you can adjust your business model and practices to better meet your customers’ needs.  Here are our tips to achieve this:

  1. Gather the right customer feedback
  2. Use negative feedback to determine what caused customer dissatisfaction
  3. Use positive feedback to praise who exceeded customer expectations
  4. Adjust business practices to fix issues and encourage more positive results

Gather The Right Customer Feedback
There has been a lot of talk recently regarding whether online reviews or manufacturer surveys are better.  The reality is that ALL customer feedback – in any form – is valuable when used correctly.  The great news is that consumers now have lots of ways to express their service experience: social media status updates, website comments, car enthusiast forums, blog posts, Business Development Center (BDC) follow-up calls, email, and even manufacturer CSI surveys.  Make certain that you are gathering this customer feedback.  We recommend setting up Google Alerts to be immediately notified anytime your dealership name or employees are mentioned online.  This is the first step to drive customer experience.

Use Negative Feedback to Determine Cause
So, you got dinged on a survey.  Yes, that stinks.  But, what can you learn from it?  It may be easy to simply pull the culprit / culprits that serviced the customer into your office and ream them.  But, if that is all you do, when the same circumstances arise again (and they will), you are certain to get the same results.  If you want to prevent negative customer feedback, use the information you received from the customer to determine what caused the customer dissatisfaction.

For example, if someone didn’t properly provide a customer with status updates on service, ask yourself and your employees what prevents them from following up with customers on a timely basis.  You may hear, “We were slammed that day!”  But, that isn’t really the cause.  Drill down further to get to the root cause.  Ask “Why?” (repeatedly).  Potential root causes could be poor scheduling, under-staffing, or even the inability to communicate with the customer in their preferred method (text, email, home phone, cell phone, etc.).

Use Positive Feedback to Praise
Let’s face it, the auto industry isn’t the easiest to work within.  Spending money on car maintenance and repairs isn’t at the top of most consumers wants.  So, don’t forget to praise your people when they do get it right.  When a customer provides positive feedback, be certain to commend your employee for a job well done – publicly!  Let your entire team know that you are proud of what they do right day in and day out.  Praising your team publicly will motivate your entire team to achieve repeated results.

Adjust Business Practices
If you have gotten this far, you are light years ahead of your competition.  You have the opportunity to create change that will drive customer experience.  Are you up for it?  Implementing change isn’t easy.  But, now that you know the root causes for customer dissatisfaction, you have the ability to determine ways to fix those problems.  To ensure success, be certain that your solutions are cost effective, easily repeatable and can be measured.  Lastly, don’t forget to praise your people when they successfully and repeatedly implement those solutions.


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The 2020 Service Retention Report Is Here!See what nearly 2,000 service customers said about why they return, why they don't, and what dealerships can do about it.