The Dealership Life – Part 2: The Broken Survey System

Satisfaction Surveys from manufacturers is an amazing way to gauge a customer’s satisfaction level from their point of view. They are also one of the worst ways to gauge a customer’s true satisfaction level with the actual department they came in to see. Allow me to expand on that…


What’s Awesome.

Surveys sent from every manufacturer always ask relevant questions in the surveys depending on the department they’ve seen. For example in the image above, the survey was for the service department experience. There are surveys for the sales department, and even some manufacturers have surveys for the parts department, too!

Questions such as Likelihood to Return to Service, Effort to meet expectations, Value for cost of service and Fix It Right the First Time are amazing questions to ask a guest on how they really feel about the service department visit.

When the guest fills out the survey, it gets sent to the manufacturer who then aggregates all of the completed surveys into an ‘overall’ format for the month, quarter or year. It gives great insight to see how the performance is based on promotions, tax rate changes, employee being added or removed, etc…*

*When used and filled out correctly.

Why It’s Largely Still A Broken System.

In a world where customers are always right, the retailer has their job at the hands of the customer. I’ve seen surveys where a male employee got a horrific score because the female’s bathroom had a clogged toilet. I’ve also seen surveys go south because the customer felt another department treated them less than favorable.

The customer is technically correct in answering the questions honestly on the survey about the overall experience, but also fails to recognize that it’s purely about that particular department, not the store overall.

For example: an employee can receive a “0” on “Dealership well-informed about Reason for Visit” because when the guest came in for routine maintenance with the service department, was not happy that a member of a different department didn’t get back to them in a timely manner. Now that question which pertains purely to the service department used the word “Dealership” instead of “Service Department,” and that particular employee is now going to get docked for it because of a technicality followed by a series of unfortunate circumstances. The customer can fill out the sections about the employee themselves and give them glowing reviews, showing the customer was happy with the main employee and the department, but unhappy about something else unrelated otherwise.

Too low of score for an employee and/or dealerships will cost some employees and/or the store money and even jobs, because either customers filled out the survey incorrectly, were treated by somebody else (not necessarily an employee) unfavorably.

Everybody Needs To Be On The Same Page.

You can ask anybody that works at a dealership about their thoughts on CSI. They will almost always cringe when you utter those three letters.

You can ask any customer about the CSI survey and they’ll likely respond with “Oh, that email? I never fill out those surveys. So-and-so was great, though!”

As an employee of a dealership, the middleman between the consumer and the manufacturer, all three of us need to be on the same page when it comes to surveys. Otherwise, data will forever always be skewed, inaccurate and unreliable.

  • Manufacturers need to have very specific wording about what they’re trying to ask from the consumer.
  • Dealerships need to embrace honest and correctly filled surveys and accept the fact that not everybody is going to be perfect. And there will be some customers out there that are just angry and out to hate the world and everything in it.
  • Consumers/customers need to understand and acknowledge that when a survey comes, please fill it out candidly with openness and honesty, but also keep in mind that the survey is about a particular visit with a specific department. Not the whole dealership as a whole. There is almost always a section where you can voice your opinions and thoughts about other departments or the store in general towards the end of the survey with the “Finishing Comments” section.

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