2017 Best in Class: Best Customer Service

Best Customer Service

Port Harbor Marine
South Portland, Maine

Port Harbor Marine places customer loyalty above CSI scores when it comes to fostering a dealership service focus.

“Our strategy is designed to improve the store first and then use mechanisms to insure we are getting the scores we deserve,” says Port Harbor Marine President Rob Soucy. “The first thing we work on is our culture.”

Port Harbor Marine’s mission statement is specifically designed to create the ultimate boating experience, Soucy adds.

The dealership’s vision and mission is achieved by adhering to a set of core values which guide crewmembers to do the right things. Values guide employee habits, and those habits are what create the culture.

“Getting the ‘right people on the bus’ is the first step to achieving our vision and mission, and if we can accomplish that, we can improve our customer satisfaction,” Soucy says. “We use the ‘Managing by Values’ approach to help align our values with our everyday work actions and decisions.”

Furthermore, Soucy says Port Harbor Marine’s customer service approach is much like one described in the book, “The Ultimate Question.” The dealership isn’t rated on a “completely satisfied” score but whether or not customers would come back with a recommendation.

“This is the true measurement of customer loyalty,” Soucy says. “We have built our brand to a point that we can disappoint on occasion or get a bad CSI score, but our customers keep coming back. It is not uncommon to get a seven or eight on a CSI survey and by the time the survey gets back to the manufacturer, the customer has already come in and upgraded their boat.”

Port Harbor Marine also uses more direct ways of improving CSI. For example, when a “Make Ready” crewmember is assigned to a boat, they interact directly with the customer before, during and after the prepping of the boat.

Each Make Ready technician has a company-issued cell phone which allows the customers to have direct access to the tech that is assigned to their boat, Soucy says.

This allows them to discuss several issues such as electronics placement, operational questions, last minute changes and any outstanding items.

“Once the boat is delivered, we begin a series of follow-ups conducted by the sales assistant and the salespeople,” Soucy says.

A thank you email is automatically generated by co-owner and director of sales, Marc Soucy. This email has created tremendous positive feedback regarding the sales and delivery process. Sales staff make a 72-hour follow-up call, and provide a custom Park Harbor Marine cooler and gift bag.

A 30-day and nine-month sales call are also made; the latter call is completed ahead of the National Marine Manufacturer Association’s CSI survey.

“All of these “formal” contacts are supported by ongoing communication through our personalized service program and an array of customer events,” Soucy says. Service coordinators are charged with the responsibility of improving scores and have a bonus tied to their performance.

After a boat systems orientation is completed, Port Harbor Marine uses a U.S. Coast Guard licensed captain to do its on-the-water orientation. This is a free service provided with every boat that’s sold. Customers are also extended a discount if they want to continue into the season.

Each spring and fall the dealership offers a variety of classroom courses through its captain service provided by Norton Nautical as well as the U.S. Power Squadron. These courses are geared towards all levels of ability and experience.

“During National Safe Boating Week, we also run public service announcements through our electronic campaigns and social media outlets,” Soucy says.

The importance of CSI and practices to improve customer experience are discussed at all company meetings as well as monthly managers meetings and weekly sales and service meetings.

“Most importantly, we strongly believe that true customer satisfaction is more about our company’s culture and not about an individual strategy,” Soucy says.


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