Study: Certified marine dealers’ CSI scores outpace industry

New data indicates dealerships completing the Marine Industry Certified Dealership Program continue to receive higher CSI scores than their non-Certified counterparts.

Measuring customer satisfaction in nine key areas, the 2015 National Marine Manufacturers Association’s Customer Satisfaction Index again draws a distinction between certified and non-certified dealers. Steve Pizzolato, founder and CEO of AVALA Marketing Group, which gathers and evaluates data for the annual NMMA CSI numbers, says the correlation between certification and improved customer satisfaction grows stronger each year.

“We’ve been doing this since the inception of the NMMA CSI Program, about 2003, and we’ve surveyed about 70,000 consumers,” Pizzolato said. “We think we’ve surveyed a high percentage of owners in the industry. My speculation is that certified dealers are concentrating on areas we know consumers find most important, and perhaps non-certified dealers are not.”

The largest gap in the 2015 numbers can be found in the “overall dealer” category, where certified dealerships received a cumulative score of 91.3 compared to 88.4 registered by non-certified businesses. The +2.8-point difference is the largest seen in the category since data compilation began.

“Once again we see convincing evidence that the certification program not only works, but it’s working better than it ever has,” Sonja Moseley, MICD Program director, said. “Achieving and maintaining high CSI scores like these is what certification has been built on, and certified dealers’ dedication to excellence comes across clear.”

One of the MICD program’s top priorities, Moseley added, is to keep customers happy with their experience at the retail level so dealerships perform better in the marketplace. Certified dealers are required upon entering the MICD program to track sales and service processes as a key approach to ensuring a positive customer experience. When areas where customers indicate they are less satisfied are isolated, the MICD program has processes in place to help dealers easily and quickly address these areas of concern to ultimately improve satisfaction and sell more boats.

Most boat buyers are surveyed by AVALA twice during their first year of ownership: 30 days after purchase with a questionnaire designed to gauge the boat delivery process and 10 months later with queries centering around product quality and overall service. North America’s best boat and engine manufacturers receive prestigious industry awards based on responses.

About 55 marine manufacturers voluntarily participated in the recent AVALA data collection, up about 10 percent from 2014.

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