What’s it all for?

Matt_new mugThe debate over the value and the use of customer satisfaction index surveys rages on, and in the heat of the economic downturn, perhaps even more fuel has been poured on this fire. Some of the best dealers in North America have, for the most part, abandoned the practice; some boat builders have stopped using the measurement in favor of cutting costs; and with all the cost-cutting (particularly on the personnel side), one would expect industry CSI scores to go up in a plume of smoke.

I’ve been reminded recently that it doesn’t really matter if you believe in CSI, the net promoter score, or some other variation of measuring your customers’ satisfaction with you and your services. What matters is that you care. And whether or not you truly care is clearly visible through how you approach this business metric.

You see, some dealers coach their customers through the process of scoring them with all 10s. Some even incentivize their customers to do so. On the manufacturer side, the M.O. is oftentimes to punish dealers who don’t receive acceptable scores. In both cases, it may appear that they care, but they simply care about the score. They don’t care as much about getting better as they do about the number. In fact, the latter example oftentimes inspires the former.

This is the wrong approach. And frankly, the number … the score … the measurement is not the end result anyway. The end result is what you do with the information once you have it in your hand.

In reference to my previous two blogs, I’ve conducted two corresponding customer satisfaction surveys.

With the Disney survey, I raved about the service we received from a number of our contacts, and we’ve been told that those individuals were recognized by Disney with internal awards. This inspires them to continue doing great work, and inspires others to strive for the same. With the couple negative experiences we had there, we’ve already been contacted for a follow-up meeting with management so they can correct their processes. This demonstrates that they truly care about our experience, whether or not we ever come back.

On the cell phone side, I scored the overall satisfaction question as “completely dissatisfied” with the experience. The automated system knew that this was bad — it repeated my answer, asked me to verify that it was accurate, and then asked me to record the reason why my score was so low. I did so and then answered in the affirmative that I would like to have a representative contact me within the next 10 business days. Today is Day 15, still with no follow-up.

A simple follow-up call would have appeased much of my dismay. It would have sent a simple message that suggests that the company cares. The continued lack of acknowledgement now has me considering an iPhone, something I’ve wanted for quite a while but was unwilling to consider because of what was previously believed to be unequaled service from my current provider. I think that can be called into question at this point.

Customer satisfaction measurements are important and should be a part of every business. But don’t get lost in the quest for the best numbers. If you approach it the right way, you’ll seek honesty and continuous business improvement. And in the end you’ll achieve the scores you desire, the loyalty you would hope for, and the referral business that is so incredibly important to us, especially during these tough economic times.

One comment

  1. Matt,

    Even though I have 30-plus years in the marine industry, I cannot speak with any authority on the use of customer satisfaction surveys used by boat dealers. I can, however, tell you that on several occasions I’ve filled out such surveys for auto dealerships, and in a number of service-related instances reported dissatisfaction in detail.

    Did I ever receive a follow-up call. NEVER. My conclusion is that, when it comes to such surveys, there often is a disconnect of gigantic proportions between upper management and those who have to implement a customer-satisfaction policy.

    If employees care, they care. And if they don’t, survey feedback will fall on deaf ears.

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