Why CSI Is So Important To The Auto Manufacturers

We’ve all heard it. “The Survey.” It’s that seemingly harmless questionnaire that can end up losing crucial sales or even bankrupt an auto manufacturer altogether if left unattended. Don’t take this as a scare tactic; take this as reality. Whether we agree with it or not, the Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) is crucial for all car dealerships and automobile manufacturers.

CSI is one of the major driving forces in the auto industry right now. When a customer buys a car from a dealership, they’re given a survey to rate their experience, usually in a letter, phone call or email. While most surveys ask the typical “on a scale from 1 to 10” question about a customer’s buying and brand experience, some surveys go the extra level and ask a series of “yes or no” questions on top of that.


Consumers Have The Power

It’s scary to say customers have a lot of control over the well-being of a brand, but with the internet and technological advances, consumers have more access to information than they did 20 years ago; this includes a manufacturer’s CSI ratings.

CSI gives customers a way to voice their opinions about their service experience with a dealership or salesperson, meaning a few bad reviews is all it takes to affect an entire business. Service doesn’t just end with the relationship the consumer had with the sales team. It’s also the Finance department, the Service or Parts department, or even as detailed as the cleanliness of the building. Buyers have the power to call out a dealer for terrible service while also praising them for exceeding customer expectations every single day. The JD Powers surveys present information online to customers about manufacturers with the lowest CSI scores.


How CSI Impacts the Auto Manufacturers - JD Power


How CSI Impacts the Auto Manufacturers

While Customer Service Index measures service rather than sales, companies still hawk-eye these numbers because it has a major impact on sales.

Auto MFRs use surveys as feedback to determine how well local dealerships are treating customers and servicing their exact needs. A manufacturer’s CSI is important because it can affect the number of customer sales that come in each month. Dealerships with low CSI scores can cost manufacturers millions of dollars. Consequently this lowers the retail price of their vehicles, controlling the demand for their vehicles, and increases marketing spend. This ultimately affects and controls the manufacturer’s overall sales.

Just like dealerships care about the quality of the products made by manufacturers, MFRs want to make sure those selling their products are treating their customers right. It’s important for both dealers and manufacturers to get customers to answer a CSI survey as honestly as possible to find out what’s great about the service, as well as what needs improvement to make the customer experience better.

Better CSI scores improve brand recognition for the manufacturers. MFRs do not sell directly to the public, so they rely heavily on the dealers and how they treat their customers. Consumers don’t always realize that dealerships are not fully connected with the MFRs, and a dealer is seen as a direct representation of the manufacturing company that creates the vehicles.


What Can Manufacturers Do About Dealership CSI Scores?

Although many dealers consider CSI as “cruel and unusual punishment,” it doesn’t have to be so. Like auto manufacturers, dealerships can look at this information and determine what’s working and what’s not working in their departments. Perhaps the sales team is doing a great job, but consumers are coming back to service their cars and get frustrated by the Service or Parts department. Or maybe customers are waiting on the phone for too long because there’s not enough staff working during peak hours.

Either way, service departments and dealerships can find trends in “pain points” within their business and create strategies ahead of time to avoid these issues from occurring as frequently. Many major manufacturing companies in other industries are doing this already.

For example, Chrysler found that 70% of their negative CSI ratings were due to lack of communication between the consumer and dealership departments. One of the CSI questions stated: “Were you contacted after your sale or service?” Unfortunately, most consumers don’t answer the phone, email ends up in spam boxes, and postal mail gets lost or unopened. Chrysler rectified the situation and implemented TEXT2DRIVE, which is a commercial text messaging platform for dealerships. They offered aggressive coop incentives for their dealerships to adopt and utilize text messaging as a superior form of communication for their dealerships due to its efficiency and dramatically higher open rates. In a matter of 6 to 8 months, they were able to raise their CSI Scores by 75%, and now Chrysler is at the forefront and ahead of the curve for the first time in auto tech industry.


TEXT2DRIVE Dramatically Improves CSI At Hebert's Town & Country Chrysler


No matter what your view is about CSI, both dealerships and automotive manufacturers benefit from these surveys and their numbers. They deserve to know when their customers aren’t getting the service that they’re committed to providing. Being able to cross communicate between departments and dealerships can help lower the risk of a customer having (and sharing) a bad experience. Today, lack of communication is no longer an excuse for not giving your customers the proper attention that they need. If you’re experiencing pain points that can be easily prevented through open communication within your organization, then consider implementing the TEXT2DRIVE text messaging platform.