Importance of Customer Satisfaction in the Auto Business

by Pete SMALL

Customer satisfaction is important to all involved. The customer, the dealer and the manufacturer are rewarded when the customer is satisfied. Indeed, all parties win when the customer is "completely satisfied."

Simply stated, a "satisfied" customer is an individual whose perception is that they received more than they expected. A "completely satisfied" customer is someone that has received much more than they expected.

In the past, people bought goods and services from people they liked and trusted. They still do today. Customers developed an affinity toward the brand of product sold; loyalty was an important factor. Expectations have changed in today's world, however. Fewer and fewer customers are loyal to a specific brand. From the business owner's side, one can no longer assume the customer will return simply because they received good service. From the customer's point of view, there is no need to return unless they were pampered. Today it is critical that a business not only develop a relationship with the individual, but it is also necessary to exceed the customer's needs and wants in order to keep them from straying to a competitor.

In the auto business, every manufacturer uses customer surveys to learn the truth about how the customer is being treated. There are financial rewards as well as bragging rights awarded to those dealers whose scores come back at the highest level. The customer gets the service that they expect, receiving value for time and money spent.

The surveys are based on the sales and the service experience the customer received at the dealership. In sales, the key survey questions relate to how the customer was treated and whether they would recommend the salesperson, dealership and manufacturer. The service surveys are directed to the appointment process and whether or not the vehicle was repaired properly on the first visit. Both sales and service scores are based on pointed questions regarding ethics.

Most customers are well aware that this survey process exists and that the results of the survey are critical to those being judged. Quality dealers welcome the challenges of today's consumer and accept the accountability associated with the process. The fact that the bar is set higher each year causes them to strive harder to clear that bar.

A classic "win-win" environment grows from the survey process. The customer gets great treatment, and the dealership grows its business. The net result is a superior place to do business for the customer and a profitable return on the dealer's investment.

Success in today's business climate is impossible without stellar customer satisfaction. The customer is entitled to the absolute best in customer service and they vote their loyalty with their pocketbook.

Pete Small is the Director of Variable Operations for West-Herr Auto Group.

westherr.jpg (8391 bytes)

Back to Special Stories