New Customer Survey Results Can Be Powerful

Dealer Wes Lutz was busy at the 2005 National Automobile Dealers Assn. convention, but he found time to place two important phone calls. They were to two dissatisfied customers who had voiced displeasure with his dealership, Extreme Dodge-Hyundai in Jackson, MI. Lutz wanted to resolve their complaints quickly. He knew they were unhappy because they were among eight customers who opted to leave recorded

Dealer Wes Lutz was busy at the 2005 National Automobile Dealers Assn. convention, but he found time to place two important phone calls.

They were to two dissatisfied customers who had voiced displeasure with his dealership, Extreme Dodge-Hyundai in Jackson, MI. Lutz wanted to resolve their complaints quickly.

He knew they were unhappy because they were among eight customers who opted to leave recorded comments as part of a new customer satisfaction survey service, NADA-24, to which he subscribes and in which NADA has a stake.

“Of the eight comments, six were good, two bad,” says Lutz. “Believe me, I'm going to be making two phone calls.”

Here's how the survey system works:

The day after a transaction (including used-vehicle sales and non-warranty paid service work) at a subscribing dealership, customers are called by Synovate research firm survey takers.

On a 1-10 scale, they ask: Were you satisfied? Would you recommend the dealership to a friend or relative? Would you come back? About 20% of surveyed customers opt to leave recorded comments.

The information is e-mailed to dealerships the next day. Dealers or managers can review the results, double-click to hear the messages and then take action to resolve any complaints.

“A lot of data indicate that if you can quickly flip a dissatisfied customer, he or she becomes one of your most loyal customers,” says Scott Miller, who oversees NADA-24 for Synovate.

To hear the verbatim comments is “powerful,” says Lutz. “It's different from the filtered feedback that dealers often get with customer complaints.”

NADA-24 is $95 to register and $3.50 for each completed survey. About 500 dealers are expected to sign up this year.

Alan Starling, who as 2003 NADA chairman complained that auto makers' dealership customer satisfaction surveys were burdensome, says he's impressed with the speed of NADA-24's survey time (about two minutes) as well as its quick delivery of results to dealers.

“It allows dealers to find out what's wrong and fix it,” Starling says. “For dealers to improve our image, we need to improve our performance.”

TAGS: Dealers Retail
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