Getting Better at CSI Surveys

Like them or not, CSI surveys are not going away anytime soon. Part of the reason for this is, quite frankly, because no one has come up with a better idea. No one disputes that a customer having a positive experience at a dealership should be everyone’s ultimate goal – and this experience is critical to both the long- and short-term success of both franchisor and franchisee. But from a dealer’s perspective, the current CSI survey system is flawed and can often work to their detriment.


Many dealers often make the valid argument that about 90 percent of CSI surveys aren’t ever filled out and frequently it’s only the small handful of dissatisfied people who actually do decide to respond – so you don’t get a real, authentic sampling of shoppers. Others argue how unfair it is that any score short of a perfect 10 is a failing grade according to the manufacturer – even something in the “very satisfied” range isn’t acceptable. So they say, Armed with all this knowledge, how could a brand’s corporate entity place such an emphasis on these imbalanced CSI surveys, even going so far as using them as deciding factors on perks such as dealer incentives and vehicle allocation?


While the present-day CSI survey setup isn’t what dealers would like it to be, there are things that can be done to help improve these scores.


∙ Follow up. When you do, ask questions pertinent to the CSI survey. This is also the perfect time to not only thank them again for their business, but also to remind them of the survey and how important it is to the dealership and its employees. (Note: If any issue is brought to your attention during this follow-up, direct all concerns immediately to the appropriate member of management to get it resolved ASAP.)


∙ Make it easy. Whatever you can do to make the customer experience easier at all touch points, do it. The fewer hoops a customer has to jump through, the happier they’ll be.


∙ Train your staff. Make sure each employee understands his/her role at your dealership. They should realize that, no matter where they are on the proverbial company flowchart, their job is important and they play a part in the overall team effort to ensure a successful CSI survey.


∙ Create value. Even if you aren’t the cheapest dealer in town, as long as your customers feel their overall experience was one in which they received good value for what they spent, they’ll give you a favorable rating.


∙ Be available. Make sure customers can always talk with someone who can help them and avoid sending them to voicemail as much as possible. It’s about having enough respect for the customer that you aren’t willing to waste their time.


What is your dealership doing to improve its CSI survey scores? Ultimately, it comes down to having the right employees and systems in place that will help you deliver the best customer experience possible.


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