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Jason Unrau

Jason Unrau Freelance Contributor

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Have you ever received a CSI survey result and been completely floored and ruffled that it wasn’t a perfect score? I know, it’s dredging up feelings you don’t want to deal with. But it happens a lot more than anyone wants to admit, especially from if you’re the DPSM.

The common scenario goes like this:

 The customer has been handled perfectly from start to finish. You’ve done your walkaround, built their trust, advised instead of sold, and kept them informed the whole time. You even offered your last courtesy car to this very client. At no point was there any indication they were displeased, upset, had questions, or been anything less than thankful and appreciative.

You might’ve explained it to the customer when they picked up their vehicle. “You’ll probably receive a survey by email about your visit today. It’s just one of the ways my performance is evaluated. If you’ve had a great experience, please fill it out appropriately. If there’s any reason you can’t give an excellent score, please let me know so I can fix it for you.” All handshakes and smiles, and the customer is on their way.

A few days later, their CSI survey comes back to you. They’ve marked their scores all one column over from perfect. In school, it’s an acceptable 80 percent. On a CSI survey, it’s the worst way to fail.

Why It Happens

Have you ever called a customer after a CSI score like this and asked why? I have. The reason is perfectly logical, at least in the customer’s point of view. The response I received was, “My service the other day was great! I have no problems with you or the dealership. I never fill out a survey perfectly, because there’s always something that can be improved upon.”

How do you argue with the logic? You can’t. What you can do is expect that you’ll get a survey like that from a perfectly happy customer every so often.

Unfortunately, your DPSM doesn’t see it that way, and scores don’t account for logical customer survey scores like this.

What You Can Do

Four out of five isn’t bad, unless four is a failing score. But there’s not much you can do about survey scores in the past – you can only look to the future. But how do you address the happy customers who never give a perfect score?

Get a Manager Involved

Not like you think, though. It’s not an ‘explain away the problem’ kind of thing. One item that some customers respond well to is an authority figure. So, in some cases, it can help for a service manager to call the customer after the advisor has called them. The service manager can say something like this:

“Hi, Mr. Ross. I want to thank you for filling out the recent survey you received. As I followed up with Jason to see if there was any way we could’ve served you better, he mentioned that you were completely satisfied. Is that true? (Assume a ‘yes’ from the customer)

“I’m glad to hear you’re happy with Jason and how your visit went. Would it be alright if I review with you how the manufacturer scores us based on the survey?”

See where it’s going? A manager may have the opportunity and influence to change a customer’s future survey scores simply by educating the customer.

There’s probably not much else you CAN do. Rewarding a customer for a survey response or coaching for a perfect score is either frowned upon or forbidden by OEMs. Unless CSI surveys change in how they’re performed by the OEM, there will always be a challenge with the odd customer who’s hesitant to give out five stars.

How have you dealt with the four-star survey? Comment below.


They are worthless. GET RID OF EM. That's my opinion! 

Bryan Foster

To some extent i agree with Jason's comment. The automotive industry is the most surveyed industry on the planet and that's not always a good thing. As a service manager though i do like the opportunity for my service advisor's and myself to touch base with customers who respond to surveys, good and bad responses. The reason for this is we can all easily get hung up on the low scored surveys and forget about the customers who value and understand the lengths our teams do go to. 

Bart Wilson

Jason, thanks for the post.  I would think that a 4.5 star reputation would have more value than 5 star.  It seems more credible and more real.  I'm not trying to diminish the value of a 5 star review, just trying to set a realistic expectation.

At the end of the day, getting a manager involved is always a good strategy.  Bryan, you are going about it correctly.

Jason Unrau

Bart, I'd totally agree if it was online reviews. CSI surveys from the OEM are a different story though. The OEMs don't care about credibility - only a perfect score. 

Bryan, when I was a service advisor I was required to follow up with ALL CSI survey replies, good or bad. I think that's definitely the right way to go. It acknowledges the response and reinforces its importance. 

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