Follow-up = CSI up

Of all the areas that affect CSI, your follow-up scores might be the lowest-hanging fruit for improvement. Put a system in place to contact customers after a purchase or a service visit, and then sit back and watch as your scores steadily rise.
Those dealers going through the industry certification program understand this, as they are required to create a follow-up process map. Their CSI scores are improving at a clip more than twice the rate of non-certified dealers. Whether or not their follow-system is the key there, it’s tough to tell, but one has to assume a well-rounded approach that demonstrates an interest in customer satisfaction after the sale has to affect scores. Additionally, those dealers’ CSI scores are, on average, seven points higher than non-certified dealers.
Boating Industry’s 2006 Top 100 Dealers know the power of follow-up, too, and have used impressive programs to guarantee themselves outstanding CSI scores and, more importantly, happy customers.
The following are a few follow-up strategies gleaned from the 2006 Top 100 Dealers.

Just do it
Want to know how important follow-up is to your overall CSI scores? Here’s an example: One Top 100 applicant boasted impressive sales CSI scores. Via a third-party measurement, the dealer received an average, over three questions and 264 responses, of 96.6 CSI. But the dealer’s follow-up CSI — one question: Has the sales person contacted you since delivery? — registered an incredibly low score of 66.67. This dropped the company’s overall average to 89.37. You might think there was a problem in the reporting, or maybe the number was skewed because of low response. Such is not the case, however. During the same period the year prior, the dealer’s scores were quite similar: 97.17 for all sales and 68.87 for follow-up, dropping the average to 90.53. Year to date, the dealer had also averaged 96.27, and its follow-up CSI (70.24) dropped its overall average to 90.01. Think of the overall improvement this dealer could make in his customers’ satisfaction if he just followed up with them in a regular fashion. Think, too, of other opportunities that might be afforded him if he pulled those scores up: more sales, better relationship with manufacturers, growth opportunities and so forth. n

n Thank them

Nothing says, “thank you” like a little token of your appreciation. Whether large or small, giving customers customized gifts can make them speak more highly of your business. Don’t give them gifts just so you can receive better scores. Give them gifts to thank them for their business. Here are a few ideas you can use.
1. The standards. Many dealers are already giving their customers hats, shirts and coozies with their logo on them. If you’re not, you need to get on board.
2. Practical use. A beach towel, like we saw from Taylor’s Boats (Ranked 11 in the 2006 Top 100) and a tote bag, which we saw from many dealers, serve as functional, practical use items any day on the water, and they also make a nice little mobile billboard for you at the beach.
3. Water logged. Just about everyone is slapping his or her logo on bottled water these days. Boat Town (Ranked 49) and Taylor’s Boats are two of the dealers we know of who have caught on to this.
4. Cookie cutter. Who doesn’t love a good cookie? Singleton Marine Group (Ranked 3) and Texas Marine (Ranked 84) are two of the dealers who send a tin of

cookies out to their boat buyers. Singleton also includes a hand-written thank-you note from “Mom” Singleton — Linda, who founded the company 18 years ago with her husband Phillip.
5. Capture the moment. Many dealers like Russell Marine (Ranked 10) take a picture of the new boat owner with their boat on delivery day. As part of their first follow-up contact, they send the customer the photo with a nice note that says, “the enclosed photo is a token of our appreciation and we hope that it will be a reminder of all the wonderful times you will have over the years with your new boat.” Mount Dora Boating Center (Ranked 91) also hangs photos of all boat customers on its walls.
6. Go big. Two of our favorite customized gifts that Top 100 Dealers gave customers were Slalom Shop Boats and Yachts’ (Ranked 6) cheese and wine set, complete with utensils and a cutting board; and Singleton Marine Group’s customized gifts sent to customers during the holiday season. This last year, all customers received waterproof flashlights and customized tote bags. n

n Hire a specialist

Many dealers are joining 20 Groups or hiring consultants to help them run their businesses. Still others are joining forces with a growing number of follow-up specialists to give them options for communicating with customers. F.U.S.S., Arkansas City, Kans., is one example of a company that Top 100 Dealers used to ensure proper follow-up is made with every customer. Other companies, such as Marine Web Services and Channel Blade Technologies, offer Web-based services for lead management and customer follow-up. Oftentimes, these companies can help you put together a schedule of proper times to contact customers after a sale. n
n Do-it-yourself

You could easily put together your own schedule, if you wanted to. You’ve bought a car or other vehicle before. How regularly did the salesperson there follow up with you? If you can’t come up with a schedule on your own, take a look at what some of the best marine dealers are doing. Most of the Top 100 Dealers use regimented schedules to follow-up with both their service and sales customers. One of the best that we saw was Action Water Sports’ (Ranked 14), who uses eight separate communications to keep in touch with its boat buyers.
One day after the sale, the salesman sends a “thank you for the purchase” letter. One day after delivery, the delivery specialist sends a letter to remind them that they can call on the dealer at any time. Seven days after delivery, the general manager sends a 10-percent off, preferred customer card and a letter that asks the customer to “let us know how we can be better in any area.” Fourteen days after delivery, the service manager sends them a letter to let customers know that “our goal is to make sure their recreational time is as free of service requirements as possible.” Thirty days after delivery, the salesman sends a letter to remind them of the upcoming survey they’ll be receiving and encourages them to fill it out and return it. Sixty days after delivery the salesman send them a “referral letter” that seeks to encourage the customers to spread the word about the dealership. And finally at one and two years after delivery, the salesman sends another survey reminder. Action uses Marine Trac software to administer this program. n
n Tighten your schedule

When it comes to measuring CSI, the timeliness of your contact affects scores. The longer you wait to contact them or send them the survey, the more opportunity there is for something to go wrong and decrease satisfaction. Make a schedule with tight yet realistic timeframes and stick to it. That, alone, could help with your CSI scores. n

n Follow-thru is critical

Sure, contacting customers can help with the scores and make the boat buyers feel a little better about their purchase or service work. But the purpose of the process is found in the improvement opportunities follow-up affords you. Take South Austin Marine (Ranked 98), for example. This dealer, which has its own internal CSI program, monitors its CSI very closely through its follow-up system. After scheduled follow-up, “every customer that is not completely satisfied is recorded and turned over to either the sales or service manager” for action. Don’t just follow up to run your name in front of the customer. Contact them with sincerity and genuine interest in mind, and your results will be much greater.

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