In the car dealership world, a perfect customer satisfaction index (CSI) score is coveted by manufacturers, dealerships, and salespeople alike. CSI scores can determine everything from the future inventory a dealership receives to bonuses paid out to dealerships. The mere mention of CSI will also send service and salespeople scrambling to the feet of waiting customers, because it’s a live-or-die metric that determines their commission or even the fate of their jobs. The CSI score is frequently the KPI that determines the quality of the dealership customer experience, and low scores will definitely have you saying FML.
Here’s how you can use CSI scores to more effectively improve performance at your dealerships and how to get more of the great CSI scores that you’re looking for.
What is a Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI)
The customer satisfaction index is a metric that auto manufacturers and dealerships use to understand overall customer satisfaction. One of the most important and misunderstood aspects of CSI is the “I”—it is an indexed score that covers everything from product quality, customer service, call experiences, prices, condition of dealership facilities, online experiences, and more.
The scores are collected through surveys that are sent to customers after they buy a car or have service performed on their vehicle. While the onus of the CSI score at dealerships often falls on salespeople and the service department because surveys are sent to customers after these interactions, it’s intended to determine the reasons for your customers’ overall satisfaction or dissatisfaction with your brand and the entire customer experience.
CSI surveys are frequently performed and managed by the manufacturers that manage the dealer franchises, but there are also third-party CSIs, the most well-known in the automotive industry being the J.D. Power U.S. Customer Service Index (CSI) Study. This is where the coveting comes in—every manufacturer wants to use that blingy J.D. Power trophy in their ad campaigns and doesn’t want to be on the bottom of the list.
What Is CSI vs. CSAT?
Your CSI is different from your customer satisfaction score (CSAT) in that the CSAT is normally a one-question survey, whereas your CSI is a weighted index of customer satisfaction across the buying journey.
Calculating Your CSI Score
The toughest part about CSI score calculation is determining what’s most important to your customers. There will likely be multiple questions related to different aspects of the customer’s experience with your brand in a CSI survey, but they should not all be weighted equally as it’s unlikely that they’re all equally important to your customers.
Asking customers to rank what is most important to them in a CSI survey is not always effective, as people generally have a hard time ranking more than five choices. Not to mention that your customer motivations and needs can change over time—what was important six months ago might be meaningless today. This is why it is so important to keep in tune with the needs and changing behaviors of your customers (more on that below) when you are creating and updating your CSI surveys.
To calculate your CSI score, you first need to establish your attributes. These are the pieces of the buying experience that you want to score. The attributes also need to be weighted depending on what is important to your business and, more importantly, your customers. From there, the weighted scores are averaged to arrive at your CSI score. You can download a CSI score calculator template here to see how it works.
How CSI Scores Should—and Should Not—Be Used in Dealerships
The CSI surveys you send out to your customers are a great way to get feedback about the customer experience you are providing. They can help you find where the gaps are in the buying experience, identify high-performing dealerships, and learn more about your customers. Unfortunately, CSI scores are frequently used in ways that can negatively affect employee morale or in overly-broad ways that can leave you blind to optimization opportunities. Here’s how you can effectively use CSI scores to improve dealership performance.
Good ways to use CSI scores in dealerships
Get an overall view of customer satisfaction
A good CSI survey will ask questions that cover all aspects of the buying experience at your dealerships. It can cover every step your customers take from online, to what kind of service they get when they call, to how they were treated by salespeople, service writers, and more. CSI surveys also often cover how satisfied customers are with the quality and reliability of their cars, which can be very valuable feedback for OEMs.
Where the customer experience is falling short or beating expectations
One of the best things you can do with your CSI scores is to identify where your customer experience is falling short of expectations. Are customers having a hard time navigating your dealer websites? Are you getting consistently low scores about your facilities? Are scores about the service customers are getting on the phone low? Pick apart your CSI surveys and look for patterns to see where you need to improve, who might need more training, and where gaps need to be filled to create a seamless experience for customers.
Learn where more training and process improvements are needed
This is especially critical in any moment where customers are interacting with sales staff and the service department. Your employees may be following procedures to the tee, but it does not match up with what your customers are expecting. Or there may be dealerships that are getting consistently low scores because they lack the training or resources they need to follow proper procedures to consistently wow customers.
Bad ways to use CSI scores in dealerships
To punish or incentivize individual salespeople
It is not uncommon for salespeople and service writers to take the brunt of the blow when bad CSI scores come in. Salespeople may have their commissions reduced or even lose their jobs due to low CSI scores. It may well be deserved, but salespeople frequently share that they are being punished for low CSI scores that have nothing to do with them.
Customers may have hated the website, taken hours to get through finance, gotten put on hold for 20 minutes when they called, or got a car that did not perform to their expectations. These are all things that are outside of the salesperson’s control, which is why using CSI scores to judge individual performance may not be fair and could negatively impact your retention rates and employee morale.
Using CSI scores as the only KPI for customer satisfaction
While CSI scores are often a good indicator of the overall brand experience, using it as your only KPI for customer service excellence can leave you blind to problems that may be sending potential customers to the competition. Use a broad approach to analyzing customer satisfaction that utilizes all of the data you have access to including online reviews, surveys, conversation analytics, and your CSI scores to get a full picture of the customer journey.
Learn what is most important to your customers
While the CSI survey is a great opportunity to learn more about your customers’ experience with your brand, it isn’t always the best place to learn what’s important to them. If there are more than five things to rank in order of importance, people cannot accurately reflect their feelings in the rankings.
How to Increase CSI Scores with Conversation Intelligence
Whether your customers are looking for a new car or getting their car serviced, their buying journey will cross channels from online, to the phone, and in-person visits.
According to the Invoca Buyer Experience Report, over 60% of consumers report calling dealerships when shopping for a car. Despite this, the phone call experience is often a neglected part of the buying journey at dealerships. This not only causes poor customer service on the phone, but a data gap that leaves you blind to the conversations—and potential conversions—that are happening on the phone.
When you don’t pay attention to phone conversations at your dealerships, you’re leaving yourself open to taking a hit to your CSI scores, and for losing customers to the competition. Here is how you can use Invoca’s AI-powered conversation intelligence solution to drastically improve your customer experience, get more insight into your customers’ needs, and improve your CSI scores across the board.
Automatically QA 100% of your sales and service calls
Dealership networks frequently rely on mystery shoppers or manual call listening to monitor the quality of service that customers are getting on the phone. There are many faults to this approach, the primary one being that only a tiny fraction of calls end up getting scored. Since mystery shoppers are essentially fake customers, they also waste your dealership employees’ valuable time. Manually listening to call recordings also wastes time that your managers could be spending on coaching sales and service staff.
When you use Invoca’s automated call quality assurance (QA) to monitor your calls, you get full visibility into 100% of the calls that come into your dealership. Even if calls are transferred between a call center and the dealership or between locations or departments, Invoca enables you to monitor and score the entirety of every single call.
Automating call monitoring and scoring with conversation intelligence software enables you to create a scalable and repeatable QA process across all of your dealerships. Better yet, it frees managers from searching for problems so they have the time to focus on strategies that don’t just provide consistent service, but continually improved service. Just imagine if every time you called a business, your experience got better! You’d probably be a customer for life. Automating your call monitoring and scoring enables you to provide that always-better experience for your customers, accelerate revenue, and boost those CSI scores.
Coach dealership employees to properly handle phone-ups
Every one of your phone-ups is a potential sale — and a potential reviewer that could make or break your CSI scores. Many many manufacturers and dealer networks have trouble getting the data they need to coach their teams. They don’t have visibility into every interaction — instead, they’re manually going through a small number of the thousands of calls they receive, extrapolating a result, and coaching teams based on the findings. Or you may be coaching based on CSI scores alone. This results in painting the whole team with a broad brush based on a narrow data set and it may not accurately reflect where coaching energy needs to be focused.
To fill this data gap, dealers like AutoNation are using conversation intelligence solutions. Invoca automatically records and transcribes each phone-up conversation and the AI analyzes the speech to pick up key phrases and agent performance indicators that you set based on your business needs. With this data, you can better understand every employee’s performance diagnose issues that are impacting revenue and improve your CSI scores.
Get visibility into sales and service performance across all dealership locations
One of the big challenges of improving the customer experience on the phone is a lack of visibility across all your dealership locations. Invoca provides a centralized platform where everyone from salespeople to on-site management to executives can get a complete picture of performance across every location.
This enables you to spot and incentivize high performers, create competitions for “perfect calls” across locations, and see where the trouble spots are so you can quickly implement training before it impacts revenue and your CSI scores.
Follow up on missed calls
Not every call that comes to your dealerships will get answered. But any call could be a valuable phone-up that you don’t want to miss. Invoca enables you to track, prioritize, and quickly follow up on missed or unanswered calls. You can prioritize calls for follow-up based on intent signals like digital interactions or IVR keypresses. You can even integrate Invoca with Slack to immediately notifiy sales staff when they need to follow up on a high-intent call.
Route calls based on digital intent signals
Getting put on hold and transferred around is bound to frustrate your customers. According to the Buyer Experience Report, 74% of consumers say they’ve hung up after being placed on hold and 79% report being transferred at least once when calling businesses.
To get phone-ups to the right place right away, Invoca can route your calls based on digital intent signals like ad campaign interactions, Google Click IDs (GCLID), or the web page that they’re calling from. This means sales calls go to straight the sales floor, service calls go to service, and transfers and hold times are reduced. And your CSI scores are bound to increase!
Get insight into what matters to your customers
Conversation intelligence also allows dealers and manufacturers to learn more about the needs of their customers. This can help you properly weigh the attributes in your CSI surveys, spot recurring issues and trends, and quickly adapt to changing customer behavior.
With Invoca Signal Discovery, you can gain valuable insight into customer behavior by using learnings extracted call recordings. Signal Discovery uses unsupervised machine learning to automatically groups conversations into distinct topics without any human guidance. It listens to every call and then creates clusters of conversation topics based on similarities in speech patterns. From there, you’re able to drill down into each topic to understand caller behavior, see topic-level insights, and discover what’s most important to your customers and increase the accuracy of your CSI surveys.