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Dealers should break from manufacturer obsession with CSI surveys

Dealers need to break from the manufacturer’s obsession with customer satisfaction if they want to obtain a true and meaningful measurement of likely future customer behaviour.

The manufacturers’ Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) surveys do not measure retention, according to Professor Jim Saker of Loughborough University's Centre for Automotive Management, who will question the validity of current CSI surveys when he speaks at AM’s Hit for Six Conference on November 13, at The Quadrangle Conference Centre, Oxford.

Professor Saker will urge dealers to adopt their own customer surveys and measure the strength of the customer’s relationship with the business and the likelihood they will return and refer. He will also explore ways those relationships can be developed by using social media.

Saker said: “Manufacturers are measuring completely the wrong aspect. Satisfaction is quite a weak emotion, in fact, we should be measuring the strength of the relationship and the likelihood of the intention to return to the business.”

Saker will explain in detail how he thinks dealers should approach customer satisfaction at the event.

Hit for Six is AM’s new conference which explores six fundamental areas - new cars, used cars, aftersales, F&I, the digital arena and profit and brings together experts and dealer case studies to enable delegates to gain valuable insight and tangible solutions under one roof in one day.

More information and details of how to book are available at

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  • archie - 29/10/2012 15:32

    Never going to happen as the car makers rely heavily on the financial penalties they impose on poor performing dealers.

  • PeterSmyth - 29/10/2012 16:52

    I agree with The Professor, however the majority of manufacturers CSI programmes are Pan European or Globally based. They are not going to change, linked to the fact that dealers spend so much time and resource in achieving "good" scores, we can ill afford to invest more time and money in this area against a backdrop of falling absorption rates!!!

    • Rod Anderson - 31/10/2012 00:52

      @PeterSmyth - good point!

  • Allen Scott - 31/10/2012 15:15

    Looks set to be an interesting session. I've long felt the areas of Manufacturer CSI & Mystery shopping are due for a major overhaul. Excellent retailers will always listen to, and act upon, customer feedback. However, as valuable as this information clearly is … it’s only half the story. Businesses are increasingly becoming aware that there is a bigger prize to be won. As critical as it is to listen to customers, our clients, at BDM, are increasingly appreciating the value of listening to their own staff. The REAL TIME recording of inbound or outbound calls followed by evaluation to a set criteria agreed by the client is proving invaluable. Recording and analysing within this live environment is the only way to successfully identify both opportunities and problems. For example: - Are agreed scripts and processes being followed? - Are contact details being sought? - Are buying signals being picked up? - Are appointments being asked for? This level of business information is necessary to instigate any changes to improve your business and support your staff through appropriate training or coaching. The age of the OEM set piece CSI & Mystery shop is surely dead?

  • Paul Chitty - 01/11/2012 11:23

    A CSI questionnaire should judge the dealership on one question to it's customers only 'Was your experience good enough for you to buy your next car from this dealership'.It should be sent to the customer at least six months after delivery so they can experience 'after sales' as well. As soon a manufacturers linked convoluted csi measures to large cash incentives it became something to be manipulated and then proves not to be in the best interests of either the customer, car dealer of manufacturer.

  • drew spink - 01/11/2012 11:47

    One of the reasons many are switching to Net Promoter Score as this measures the willingness to refer a family member or friend.

  • archie - 01/11/2012 12:03

    We as a group have often questioned the sincerity of the whole CSI model. Bottom 3 in customer satisfaction without fail every year will include the top 2 volume customers really take notice? Take Lexus for example,number one in JD power for years yet abysmal market share!

  • PeterSmyth - 01/11/2012 14:26

    agreed Archie! I know its getting off the subject but it staggers me that Lexus always seems to figure well on dealer attitude surveys but on such low volumes how much money do they actually make?

    • archie - 01/11/2012 15:01

      @PeterSmyth - Was there not talk of them pulling out of Europe as breaking the German stranglehold on the Premium market was and is impossible?