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With all the emphasis on social media and internet ratings, is there still a focus on manufacturer Customer Satisfaction Index scores?


In a past life, I was an integral part of one of the nation’ top GM CSI dealerships. We were careful to avoid crossing the line by offering incentives or other gimmicks that would violate their policies, but we made it a point to personally ASK for every survey and explain the importance to us as individuals. We also carefully monitored the ‘would you recommend us?’ score, as an indicator future business growth potential.


With manufacturers (indeed, many industries) demanding perfect scores and tying them to everything from money incentives and allocation, is it wrong to ask a customer for a good score, if every effort was made to earn it? The challenge always seemed to be getting staff to actually pop the question, as it were, and in a way that made it clear to the sales or service customer that a good score was personally important.


However, it ACTUALLY does all start with a great experience. If you have earned the right to ask for a good score on a CSI survey, then it follows that you should be able to ask for positive internet reviews. The key seems to be that you must be judicious in your requests. BEFORE social media ‘LIKES’ and online rating sites, customers were pushing back against the constant barrage of survey requests.

But is it wrong to ask for the CSI survey in the first place?

Views: 830

Tags: CSI, automotive, car sales, customer satisfaction, customer service, online reviews, sales, social media


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Comment by Big Tom LaPointe on February 21, 2013 at 7:45pm

I know MINI actually DOES post comments and ratings directly on the dealer website - which for me only EXACERBATES the situation with more pressure, more stress, and more cause to look for ways to beat the system. Kind of like when I was in the military and unless you had perfect proficiency scores you would never get promoted, because EVERYBODY had perfect scores.

Comment by Jason Mickelson on February 15, 2013 at 1:54pm

I agree with Matt.

Comment by Matt Bohach on February 15, 2013 at 1:49pm

You have not done your job correctly if you do not ask for the survey.  Sorry, but otherwise most people will not fill it out.  I used to use a simple talk track to nicely ask for it and explain that if they could not answer a question by saying we were perfect, to contact me directly.  This nipped any post-sale problems in the bud.  If they like you as a salesperson, they will do this for you!

Comment by Alexander Lau on February 15, 2013 at 1:04pm

This reminds me of asking a customer for a DealerRater, Edmunds or Cars. com review. Same scenario.

Comment by Jason Mickelson on February 15, 2013 at 8:22am

Mr. Shaffer, another great topic.  Maybe the OEM might work directly to share comments online.  Add a checkbox for the customer to check if they would like to make their comments public.  Another subject that I would like to read about is:  The rise and fall of CSI surveys.  Will they ever go away?  You write it and I'll read it.  :)

Comment by Edward Shaffer on February 15, 2013 at 7:30am

I think that the continued focus of OEMs on CSI surveys is a bit behind the times - they were an excellent tool to motivate dealers in the past, but have been largely supplanted by user generated content online.  What really needs to happen is that if the OEMs are going to continue to survey our clients then they need to work with the major online players such as Google to ensure that the custoemr feedback is seamlessly transitioned online for everyone to see.

Comment by Jason Mickelson on February 15, 2013 at 7:26am

It is all about educating the customer.  Not only do you ask, you have to inform them what you expect and why it is important.  As in sales, give them an agenda.  I personally would ask them if there is any reason that they are not 100% completely satisfied as they were ready to leave our dealership.  Then I would educate my customer that the manufacturer will send them a survey in a couple of weeks with a rating system between 1 and 5.  Five is great and four is pretty good, right?  Well a 4 or below is a fail.  If there is any reason that you are not able to mark this survey 100% completely satisified, please give me a call.  I am here for you!  

If you want the survey back and you want it to be perfect, ask.  As mentioned, you have to also earn it.  To ask for a great survey and not earn it is a sin.   

Comment by Chuck Golden on February 15, 2013 at 4:01am

I find that you can and should ask to have the mfg. survey completed by the customer. It is essential that the customer knows why that is important to you and your company. And is is important for them to know what is in it for them. So why is it important that they complete the mfg. survey? It is important so that the feedback exist as to how well we met our goal of creating the best possible experience for them. Our goal is to provide all customers a really good experience and we need to know how we performed, good or bad. The customer needs to know we work every day on all those things that go into a good experience and we need their guidance on how we did each and every time they are in contact with us. So what is in it for them; it is thefeedback that we get everyday that molds our process so we can deliver the best every time. Never, never ask for a good score, only ask for their feedback that can make you do the best possible job.

Comment by Ralph Paglia on February 15, 2013 at 3:08am

Like most activities that require some measure of effort, if we do not ask for our customers to take the OEM surveys seriously and to PLEASE complete their's and return it, then most of them will not get done.  If the relationship between the dealership employees doing the asking and the customer is strong, then the request will prove effective... If that relationship is weak, or not based on delivering great service, then the request will likely have little effect.

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