How to Measure Customer Satisfaction

The RIGHT way to measure customer satisfaction in your auto repair shop…

Far too many shop owners don’t measure Customer Satisfaction in their auto repair shops. It’s not that they’re not interested in the results, it’s just that they’re not sure how to do it. Unfortunately, the price they pay for not measuring customer satisfaction is a fortune. To make matters worse, the Gallup Association recently released a report that stated most ways presently used to measure CSI are beyond bad; they’re worthless.

Here’s the deal. The CSI goal obviously needs to be 100%, and you need to establish a Minimum Level of Acceptable Performance with your team that is set at 90% (With the understanding that your employees can “begin” to earn CSI rewards on an incremental scale once they pass the threshold of 95%). Now here’s where most shop owners get into trouble: they’re not sure what constitutes as a point against the score. Now I realize that there are many different ways to measure customer satisfaction, and many of our Dealership clients, and those of you in the AAA Approved Auto Repair Program, have some well-designed systems in place. But if you’re just looking for a simple, easy to use method, here it is…

You need to classify any comeback, or customer complaint, as a “failure” and you should judge that failure rate against the car counts for the measured period. 100 Vehicles? You should not incur over ten complaints, including comebacks. If the vehicle was repaired six months ago, and it fails today? It still needs to be considered as a failure for this period even though your existing employees may not have had any control at that time the service was originally provided to the customer. The rationale is two-fold: one, the failure will be offset by any poor work done today that may not fail for possibly months to come.

The second reason we need to consider it a failure is because your income statement is blind to what, where and when. All that we do know is the comeback is a failure “today”. In regard to “part” failure, it too needs to be counted against the CSI score. Not only is your financial statement blind to part failure, but your overall CSI score should take a reasonable percentage of part failures into consideration.

So warranty claims, failures including part failures, customer neglect (i.e. we failed to educate them on their responsibility), etc., are easy to classify as failures in CSI scoring. Where it becomes more subjective is with your customer follow-up calls. I would highly advise that you ask every customer, “Would you recommend us to others?” If the answer is “yes”, then it’s reasonably safe for us to say (outside of any other comments they’ve made) that the customer is a happy customer.

So what we need to strive for are fewer comebacks, zero complaints (customer returns with dirty carpet, upset that vehicle wasn’t done on time, felt prices were too high, etc.), and 100% of our follow-up calls ending with the customer saying they would recommend us to others. Although you may have to massage the percentages and criteria a bit, this method is a great starting point for you and your company, and I believe it is fair to both you and your employees. You should also assure that all of your people know that if there are any comebacks, or complaints that are knowingly not reported, then there will be a substantial penalty in any reward they may be entitled to. If any employee is guilty of not reporting a complaint or comeback a second time, they go on report. A third failure to report should be considered grounds for immediate dismissal.

Make sure all your people understand that openness and honesty in reporting are critical to improvement. Also let them know that their income, along with the success of your company, will always be predicated on continual improvement.

For additional insights on how to run a more successful shop from some of the most successful shop owners in the U.S., learn more about the 1-on-1 coaching offered through the Elite Coaching Program.

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