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Customer Satisfaction Surveys

When I bought my Outback wagon my dealer told me to expect a customer satisfaction survey in the mail from Subaru. My salesperson asked me to bring the survey into the dealership and "we can fill it out together". They would give me a free tank of gas and a car wash and said that they would fax the survey directly to Subaru the next day "instead of having to mail it in". I nodded to keep the peace but I wasn't happy about their "bribe".

A few days later I received a letter from the general manager at the dealership reminding me again about the survey. He wrote that the dealership would like me to check off all line items as "completely satisfied" and that if I felt differently that I should come in and we can "resolve matters" beforehand.

I think this is pretty ridiculous and makes a mockery out of the customer feedback system. My opinion of the dealership has declined and I am now less likely to submit a survey with flying colors because I question the dealership's integrity. I feel like I'm being bought. Or am I being too harsh?

It's my opinion that if the dealer wants top marks they need to provide me with service commensurate with such distinction. I can't say that the dealership gave me a bad experience but they didn't necessarily impress me either. My car buying experience with them was rather average. I cannot in good conscience give them a sterling review because that would tell Subaru that this dealership cannot improve, that they already provide the highest level of service, and this is not the case.

I am not "completely satisfied" with all aspects of the dealership and there's little they can do now since several of the survey questions relate to subjective impressions/feelings. If I had to walk all over the dealership for 15 minutes looking for sales help why should I be "completely satisfied" with my initial contact with the dealership? I had an appointment, I was a serious buyer (I did buy a car that day) and yet nobody was available to assist me. Sorry, I'm not "completely satisfied".

Certainly I am a tough grader but I like to think I am fair and would not use a survey to grind an axe. One might say "but they seem to be trying to make amends if needed". Yes, perhaps, but in my view they are trying to engineer flawless surveys AFTER the fact. This is like treating symptoms rather than curing the ailment.

What do you think?


  • tbonertboner Posts: 402
    I think the bribes are a BAD idea, but I like the idea of bringing any bad aspects to the attention of the dealer and letting them address them before sending off the survey.

    Maybe what you need to do is make a photocopy of the survey, fill out the copy the way you REALLY feel and then decide if you want to participate in the group survey completion exercise and get your goodies, or just throw the thing away.

    As one who lived and died by weekly post class surveys when I instructed in the IT world, I know the effects of grade inflation. So I too wanted the highest marks.

    I was straight up with my students at the beginning of the week that my objective was to provide an EXCELLENT training experience, and I would be upset if you, the student, waited until Friday's Post Class Survey to tell me it wasn't excellent. I simply informed them that if it wasn't excellent, they were doing themselves a disservice if they allowed the course to be unfulfilling without telling me, so I could correct any shortcomings they might have with me, the material or the classroom.

    It wasn't that I wanted them to lie, or be dishonest. Rather, I wanted them to know that it was in everyone's best interest if we defined excellence up front and we all worked towards excellence. I also reminded them that their employer was paying a lot of money for them to be there (tutition, maybe travel, their salary while in class) and it did no good to have an anonymous miserable experience.


  • 18fan18fan Posts: 147
    I think you should fill out the survey honestly, giving details where appropriate, then send it back to Subaru. Consider sending a copy of it to the GM of the dealer with a letter explaining your reasons for the score & comments you gave. Sounds like they are trying to buy a perfect score for around $20 cost to them? (tank of gas & free car wash) ......uh..... no thanks...... Seems they think you can be bought real cheap.

    Isn't the purpose of the survey to tell Subaru and the dealer how & in what areas of the buying experience that they can improve their service to customers??
  • landru2landru2 Posts: 638
    So 18fan, it's the size of the bribe that is the problem? Maybe if they made it $100 ...

  • is the way the salesman and the dealership are negatively impacted in a financial way by anything less than exemplary marks. It really incents the dealership to take this stance with each customer. The manufacturer should use it as a mechanism for continuous quality improvement through it's dealer network, instead it's used as a hammer, and therefore the incentive for the dealer is to force each customer into an uncomfortable situation. It's easier to do this than actually work to raise the quality level to the extent the manufacturer demands. Law of diminishing returns.
  • landru2landru2 Posts: 638
    If every one of our customers answered every question with "very satisfied" you'd think we'd be doing something right wouldn't you? Unfortunately, in Ford's eyes, that would put us at a score of 0%.

    There will always be those people that equate top marks with perfection. And of course, to these people perfection can never be attained. So, ergo, no matter how good of a job we do, we can never be perfect and can never get top marks.

    It's a very frustrating system for everyone involved.
  • 18fan18fan Posts: 147
    It's not the *size* of the bribe that matters, it is that they offered a bribe at all. bgabel described his experience as average... not horrible, but not outstanding either. One way to receive exemplary marks on the survey is to give outstanding service to the customer. Sounds like this dealer did not do that.... but wants to be rewarded as if they did.

    I understand the dilemma to sales people & dealerships that the survey results directly effect bonuses, allocations, etc..... it is certainly not a perfect system. Wouldn't the dealership WANT the customer's honest feedback on their buying experience? It would have a direct effect on future sales.... not only if bgabel goes there to buy his next car... but more immediately, the people bgabel would recommend... or *not* recommend.... to that dealership.

    Landru, I'm sure YOU give exemplary service to your customers....

  • audia8qaudia8q Posts: 3,138
    Part of the problem with the mfg. surveys is the consumers don't understand that anything other than a perfect score is a failure. With every mfg we sell....they give the consumer the option to grade the dealership and car from 0-10. Ten being the best. If we get one 9 its rated the same as 0 on everything....This is unfair to the consumer and the dealer, especially since the mfg leads the consumer to believe that it isnt pass fail....

    I don't bribe people for surveys, but we sure see alot of consumers who try to get something for a good survey!!! All of our salespeople explain the details of the survey and how they work...they also say the following "when you get your survey, if there is ANY reason you can not give us 10's, please contact us and let us address the issue before you send in the survey"

    On the other hand....any consumer who makes a purchase, from any retailer, who has a reason to give the retailer a bad survey is an idiot for making the purchase from that retailer. To whine about something after the buyer has rewarded the bad retailer with a sale is absurd. I can not imagine buying something from somebody who makes me upset.
  • landru2landru2 Posts: 638
    As I alluded to, the biggest problem is not in improving our service so that customers give us good marks. The biggest problem is getting happy customers to mark "completely satisfied" rather than "very satisfied."
  • edle777edle777 Posts: 19
    IMHO, the problem is the car maker who grades the surveys so unfairly. It's like a school that says you need 100% to pass the course. So as a student, if you get a 90%, do you go complain to the teacher who gave you the mark? Not if you deserved it. The problem is the administration and their unrealistic standards. If they don't listen to your concerns, then I guess you're SOL. Nobody said life was fair. You want to sell this car maker's cars for a living, you have to accept the good with the bad.

    Customers should fill out the survey as he/she sees fit. A bribe is still a bribe and shows a lack of integrity of the part of the dealership. The fact that a dealer is graded harshly isn't the customer's problem.
  • landru2landru2 Posts: 638
    No one here is saying that an unhappy customer should say they are happy. No, the marking system is not the customer's problem. But I think many customers intend to reward us by marking "Very Satisfied." I think they should be informed that that score will in fact give us a 0% mark.
  • 18fan18fan Posts: 147
    Understood... and I agree with you.

    My point, though, is that it is a much easier "sell" to explain the survey system (all or nothing) to a customer who has received outstanding service through the buying process. The happy customer is much more likely to give top marks, whereas the customer who had only an average experience (as bgabel described) is likely to be put off by perceived attempts to "buy" a better survey than the level of service deserved.
  • rivertownrivertown Posts: 928
    the dealer has made it clear how the surveys are scored, and I've understood that. So, the dealer gets a perfect score from me if the service is at least average and completely free of shady dealing.
    I'm a hard sell, and yet it's not hard to get a perfect CSI from me. So, if you're taking CSI hits it might pay to take a good look at the basics.
    I'm gonna call the dealer to let him know about the doc fee added just prior to signing or about the service dept unwilling to deal with a tire with a slow leak the day after delivery? Yeah, right. That's basic stuff, which the dealer can catch on his own - if he's interested.
  • landru2landru2 Posts: 638
     Unfortunately many people feel their conscience won't let them mark perfect for average service.
  • edle777edle777 Posts: 19
    I agree that customers should understand the difference between "very" and "completely". But the fact that they are graded so differently by the car maker is what doesn't make any sense. If it's an all-or-nothing thing, they should make it so. As I recall, the last car survey I filled out had mostly (Y/N) questions so it was clear to the survey taker that it was all-or-nothing.
  • rivertownrivertown Posts: 928
    There will always be people who are impossible to please. To focus on them, and in so doing to fail to please those who can be pleased, is probably counter productive.
  • landru2landru2 Posts: 638
    You've missed the point too. The people that make or break our score are people that are already pleased. They just need to be somehow convinced to mark "Completely" rather than "Very."
  • audia8qaudia8q Posts: 3,138
    yes, its the mfg who is unfair....but isnt it much more unfair to give the dealership a failure score when you had a 9 experience? Why bother giving the dealership 9's....just give them zero's, it's the same thing....

    The bottom line is the dealership is financially penalized and the consumer who was happy with the process is now looked at as the "guy who failed us" because of his perception of how a survey should be handled by the mfg....

    The mfg is unfair so let's clobber the dealership who was good enough to earn your business.
  • lucyjolucyjo Posts: 7
    ...'cuz they can buy me cheap. I'd gladly trade a perfect score for a full tank of gas and a car wash.

    Besides; I did the "shop around for a salesmen" thing they talk about in the new car buying articles on this website. The guys that treated me like I was an idiot, or the places where I had to stand around and get ignored, I just left and headed to a different dealership. Plenty of places sell Chevys in AL. So, by the time someone got my business, in my eyes they ARE the best of the lot.
  • rivertownrivertown Posts: 928
    the folks who can't get the idea that only 10's count go to particular dealers more than others? Unless that's the case, you're on even ground with your competitors; and CSI scores better or worse than average reflect something about the dealership earning them.
  • landru2landru2 Posts: 638
    may bribe for higher scores.

  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    Some people may be unhappy over the treatment they received but then they will sell themselves out for a lousy tank of gas.

    Others are happy but they just can't bring themselves to give a perfect survey.

    The the people who give the worst scores are...

    1. The real grinders who grind us for the last

    2. Engineers
    3. Teachers
    4. The elderly.
  • dbgindydbgindy Posts: 351
    Have any car surveys ever gone on a pass/fail system? I would think that might eliminate the folks who are very happy but can't give a 10 (perfect). Just curious.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    With Honda, surveys are no longer mailed out. They now CALL the customers. They ask about ten questions and ask to rate their salesperson on a scale between 1-5.

    Anything less than a 5 is a failure.

    I explain that to my customers. I tell them that a 5 doesn't mean "perfect". It just means they were 80% or more satisfied.

    Still, I've had people give me all 4's and comment that they were very happy but they don't like the way the scoring works.

    I don't like the system at all but since we are graded along with everyone else I guess it averages out.
  • zueslewiszueslewis Posts: 2,353
    "if I felt differently that I should come in and we can "resolve matters" beforehand"

    Isn't that what customer satisfaction IS? Taking care of the consumer to where they feel happy about the transaction?

    As a Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep salesguy is '92-93, I got slammed on a survey by a new Jeep buyer who felt that adding $1,000 worth of stereo to his deal shouldn't have raised his payments.

    As a result, I lost my Chrysler Gold Level sales certification and lost out on $3500 in incentives over the 4 months it took to get it back.

    I'm a firm believer that if you have a problem with any aspect of a car deal, don't complete the deal. Only an idiot would go through with a deal they don't like, then gripe about it later.

    The worst thing you can do is reward bad behavior/business practices with YOUR business.

    In my case, I did nothing wrong - at all - my family and I took a huge hit, though, until I could seel enough Chrysler prodcuts with good scores to get my level of certification back.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    One bad survey can do this. It can also cause an entire store to miss President's Award.

    I have had mean spirited people give me bad surveys I did not deserve.

    I have also had customers (very few)where I was never able to win them rapport at all.

    These people are the cold fish. They never smile or show emotion. They are neither happy nor unhappy.

    These are the surveys I fear the most.

    I would MUCH rather not sell a car than risk a lousy survey!
  • dinu01dinu01 Posts: 2,586
    When we bought the Protege, the salesman kept insisting on a good score. I rated him and the dealership b/w 7-9 for the different criterias. Never gave anything less than a 7 or higher than a 9 as I was satisfied with the whole process - unless someone sells me a car for invoice right away without haggling, I don't see how I can give a 10.

    Now I read this thread and feel bad about it - I didn't know anything less than a 10 mean a 0... VERY idiotic scoring criteria IMO.

    I am studying to be a teacher - maybe that has something to do with the score as a previous poster was saying...

  • dinu01dinu01 Posts: 2,586
    He never told me anything less than a 10 means a 0 either...

  • My Honda buying experience was a disappointment. The car is fine(02 civic si), the paperwork got screwed up and I didn't realize the problem until after I had already completed the phone survey. Guarantees that the only way I'll ever buy a car from this salesman again is out of spite and I'll make it a point to give across the board failing grades on every question (even if he redeems himself next time around).
  • user777user777 Posts: 3,341
    i recently received both a phone survey and a rather lengthy survey by mail from Honda. am i the exception to the new rule? i wonder...

    of course, i was able to rate the experience first of the place where i purchased my ODY (by phone) and then again via mail, but MUCH more interesting i think by mail, i was also given the opportunity to rate two of the dealerships where i didn't purchase my car.

    btw, not all engineers are stingy with their ratings. i was able to rate the dealership and the experience where i purchased the car with 5s, and they deserved it.

    may all your customers be non-grinders, non-engineers, non-teachers and young. ;)
  • landru2landru2 Posts: 638
    has become a little twisted when someone threatens to buy again because of the poor service they received?
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