CSI – Looking beyond the numbers

More than ever, the marine business is driven by our customers’ experiences or CSI. A high CSI score can elevate a dealership, creating a distinct competitive advantage. Over the last few years, overall CSI scores throughout the marine industry have improved, but we still have a ways to go in the area of sales and service satisfaction. Perhaps more importantly, we need to improve the way we measure customer satisfaction.

Only a truly accurate CSI score can give us a picture of ourselves through the eyes of the customer. In fact, it may be more important and valuable to read the negative survey results than the positive ones. While high-scoring surveys reflect positively on the dealership, it is the less-than-perfect surveys that give us reasons to reflect on our practices and make changes accordingly, thus improving our ability to satisfy the customer.

Though CSI surveys are usually distributed by phone or mail, occasionally customers are asked to complete a survey at the point of purchase.

Consider the following scenario:
You have just sold a customer his first boat. Everyone is happy and excited about the new purchase, and the customer is ready get on the water. Before he can do that, he has to spend 15 minutes filling out a standard CSI survey that asks him to rate his experience at your dealership. He’s so eager to get out of the store with his boat that he doesn’t spend time with his answers. The customer gives you the highest
marks in all categories and then quickly exits the store, new boat in tow.

Was the experience fair to the customer? Was it fair to your business? You may have ended up with a high CSI score, but what have you really learned about the customer’s experience in your store? How will you improve on that experience when the next customer walks in and is ready to buy a boat?

As we move into the height of boating season, I would like to challenge the marine industry to change the way we think about CSI, to look beyond the scores.

Let’s take the time to listen to our customers. That means giving them the space and time they need to give honest feedback. Let’s learn to embrace the critical survey responses because we know only they will lead us to truly better business.

Dealers who focus on customer satisfaction, rather than just a score, will ultimately become more profitable because they will attract high-quality customers. These customers are less concerned with price and are willing to pay for quality service. They are also apt to tell more people about their positive experience.

If we go the extra mile and do our best to turn negative survey results into positive opportunities for improvement, we may all find ourselves in a position of increased CSI and profitability in 2008.

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