Dealership CSI Scores Are a Customer Irritant
By Chris Haak
Although I already wrote about the furor that has been growing over dealership CSI scores a year and a half ago, this week I was reminded by just how annoying they can be to customers. I’m sure they are just as annoying and frustrating to the dealers as well, but the insane process of setting unreasonable expectations on dealership employees does nothing but encourage pestering customers at best, and encourage gaming the system at worst.
This week, I took one of our vehicles to a local dealership for a recall. As I handed the service writer my keys, I noticed a large sign under the cashier’s area that said something to the effect of, “Our goal is for you to be Completely Satisfied. If you receive a survey from General Motors, please tell them that you are Completely Satisfied with the service that you have received. If for any reason you are not Completely Satisfied, please let us know right away.”
When I got my car back, the repair wasn’t a complete success, meaning I’d have to return to the dealership for a follow-up visit. That also meant that I wasn’t “completely satisfied.” However, I also don’t want to cause harm to a local business, knowing that good CSI (Customer Satisfaction Index) scores are obviously very important to them (a fact that was subsequently reinforced numerous times in the past few days).
Yesterday, I received a voicemail from someone at the dealership who said that he wanted to see how my service experience was, and whether I was completely satisfied with it. He asked that if I was not completely satisfied to please call him to let him know about the experience and how he might rectify it. If I was completely satisfied, I needed to do nothing but respond to a possible survey from GM.”
Then last night I opened my mail, and received the following letter:
We at [Dealer Name] would like to thank you for selecting us as your Cadillac repair facility.
You may receive a Service Satisfaction Survey or a phone call from Cadillac about your service experience here at [Dealer Name]. We would like you to give us the best rating possible.
At [Dealer Name], it is our goal to maintain service excellence and a high level of customer satisfaction. Our hope is that you will see your service experience as excellent and return. If you are Completely Satisfied with your service, please return the survey to Cadillac.
If for any reason you cannot answer Completely Satisfied with our service or if you have any questions, please feel free to call me before returning the survey. We will do whatever we can to earn you Completely Satisfied response.
Thank you again for choosing [Dealer Name] to service your car.
I honestly don’t fault the dealership for begging and pleading for good excellent ratings from their customers, since GM (and other manufacturers) have put so much emphasis on ridiculously-high ratings. It really is pretty pathetic for a Cadillac dealer to have to beg for good scores throughout the entire service experience.
Of course, I’ll probably say that I was Completely Satisfied. For one, I’m too busy or too lazy to call the guy back who asked if I was completely satisfied (though I suppose that would have been faster than spending an hour writing about it). For another, I know how important the scores are to the livelihood of the staff at a dealership that is probably seeing much lower sales than it did a year ago. Finally, I don’t feel right about trying to extort something like a free oil change out of them just for a better score (though I wouldn’t be surprised if less-scrupulous customers would try something like that). After all, I’ve heard way too many stories from the other side of the table where customers really went out of their way to rip off dealers at trade-in time or with things like warranty repairs.
The bottom line: dealership CSI scores remain a broken system, and expecting perfection is not reasonable. That unreasonable expectation leads to dealers trying very hard to influence scores, which clouds the actual results of the survey and prevents the dealership from knowing whether there really are true issues that need to be addressed.
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