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#1 of 504 Dealer bribes and satisfaction surveys
Aug 22, 2003 (6:31 am)
When I bought my Outback wagon my dealer told me to expect a customer satisfaction survey in the mail from Subaru. My salesperson asked me to bring the survey into the dealership and "we can fill it out together". They would give me a free tank of gas and a car wash and said that they would fax the survey directly to Subaru the next day "instead of having to mail it in". I nodded to keep the peace but I wasn't happy about their "bribe".
A few days later I received a letter from the general manager at the dealership reminding me again about the survey. He wrote that the dealership would like me to check off all line items as "completely satisfied" and that if I felt differently that I should come in and we can "resolve matters" beforehand.
I think this is pretty ridiculous and makes a mockery out of the customer feedback system. My opinion of the dealership has declined and I am now less likely to submit a survey with flying colors because I question the dealership's integrity. I feel like I'm being bought. Or am I being too harsh?
It's my opinion that if the dealer wants top marks they need to provide me with service commensurate with such distinction. I can't say that the dealership gave me a bad experience but they didn't necessarily impress me either. My car buying experience with them was rather average. I cannot in good conscience give them a sterling review because that would tell Subaru that this dealership cannot improve, that they already provide the highest level of service, and this is not the case.
I am not "completely satisfied" with all aspects of the dealership and there's little they can do now since several of the survey questions relate to subjective impressions/feelings. If I had to walk all over the dealership for 15 minutes looking for sales help why should I be "completely satisfied" with my initial contact with the dealership? I had an appointment, I was a serious buyer (I did buy a car that day) and yet nobody was available to assist me. Sorry, I'm not "completely satisfied".
Certainly I am a tough grader but I like to think I am fair and would not use a survey to grind an axe. One might say "but they seem to be trying to make amends if needed". Yes, perhaps, but in my view they are trying to engineer flawless surveys AFTER the fact. This is like treating symptoms rather than curing the ailment.
What do you think?
#2 of 504 Mixed
Aug 22, 2003 (7:03 am)
I think the bribes are a BAD idea, but I like the idea of bringing any bad aspects to the attention of the dealer and letting them address them before sending off the survey.
Maybe what you need to do is make a photocopy of the survey, fill out the copy the way you REALLY feel and then decide if you want to participate in the group survey completion exercise and get your goodies, or just throw the thing away.
As one who lived and died by weekly post class surveys when I instructed in the IT world, I know the effects of grade inflation. So I too wanted the highest marks.
I was straight up with my students at the beginning of the week that my objective was to provide an EXCELLENT training experience, and I would be upset if you, the student, waited until Friday's Post Class Survey to tell me it wasn't excellent. I simply informed them that if it wasn't excellent, they were doing themselves a disservice if they allowed the course to be unfulfilling without telling me, so I could correct any shortcomings they might have with me, the material or the classroom.
It wasn't that I wanted them to lie, or be dishonest. Rather, I wanted them to know that it was in everyone's best interest if we defined excellence up front and we all worked towards excellence. I also reminded them that their employer was paying a lot of money for them to be there (tutition, maybe travel, their salary while in class) and it did no good to have an anonymous miserable experience.
#3 of 504 bgabel1260
Aug 22, 2003 (7:05 am)
I think you should fill out the survey honestly, giving details where appropriate, then send it back to Subaru. Consider sending a copy of it to the GM of the dealer with a letter explaining your reasons for the score & comments you gave. Sounds like they are trying to buy a perfect score for around $20 cost to them? (tank of gas & free car wash) ......uh..... no thanks...... Seems they think you can be bought real cheap.
Isn't the purpose of the survey to tell Subaru and the dealer how & in what areas of the buying experience that they can improve their service to customers??
Aug 22, 2003 (8:11 am)
So 18fan, it's the size of the bribe that is the problem? Maybe if they made it $100 ...
#5 of 504 I think the problem
Aug 22, 2003 (8:31 am)
is the way the salesman and the dealership are negatively impacted in a financial way by anything less than exemplary marks. It really incents the dealership to take this stance with each customer. The manufacturer should use it as a mechanism for continuous quality improvement through it's dealer network, instead it's used as a hammer, and therefore the incentive for the dealer is to force each customer into an uncomfortable situation. It's easier to do this than actually work to raise the quality level to the extent the manufacturer demands. Law of diminishing returns.
#6 of 504 Surveys, ugh.
Aug 22, 2003 (8:51 am)
If every one of our customers answered every question with "very satisfied" you'd think we'd be doing something right wouldn't you? Unfortunately, in Ford's eyes, that would put us at a score of 0%.
There will always be those people that equate top marks with perfection. And of course, to these people perfection can never be attained. So, ergo, no matter how good of a job we do, we can never be perfect and can never get top marks.
It's a very frustrating system for everyone involved.
#7 of 504 Landru...
Aug 22, 2003 (9:12 am)
It's not the *size* of the bribe that matters, it is that they offered a bribe at all. bgabel described his experience as average... not horrible, but not outstanding either. One way to receive exemplary marks on the survey is to give outstanding service to the customer. Sounds like this dealer did not do that.... but wants to be rewarded as if they did.
I understand the dilemma to sales people & dealerships that the survey results directly effect bonuses, allocations, etc..... it is certainly not a perfect system. Wouldn't the dealership WANT the customer's honest feedback on their buying experience? It would have a direct effect on future sales.... not only if bgabel goes there to buy his next car... but more immediately, the people bgabel would recommend... or *not* recommend.... to that dealership.
Landru, I'm sure YOU give exemplary service to your customers....
Aug 22, 2003 (9:21 am)
Part of the problem with the mfg. surveys is the consumers don't understand that anything other than a perfect score is a failure. With every mfg we sell....they give the consumer the option to grade the dealership and car from 0-10. Ten being the best. If we get one 9 its rated the same as 0 on everything....This is unfair to the consumer and the dealer, especially since the mfg leads the consumer to believe that it isnt pass fail....
I don't bribe people for surveys, but we sure see alot of consumers who try to get something for a good survey!!! All of our salespeople explain the details of the survey and how they work...they also say the following "when you get your survey, if there is ANY reason you can not give us 10's, please contact us and let us address the issue before you send in the survey"
On the other hand....any consumer who makes a purchase, from any retailer, who has a reason to give the retailer a bad survey is an idiot for making the purchase from that retailer. To whine about something after the buyer has rewarded the bad retailer with a sale is absurd. I can not imagine buying something from somebody who makes me upset.
Aug 22, 2003 (9:23 am)
As I alluded to, the biggest problem is not in improving our service so that customers give us good marks. The biggest problem is getting happy customers to mark "completely satisfied" rather than "very satisfied."
#10 of 504 Put the blame where it belongs
Aug 22, 2003 (9:39 am)
IMHO, the problem is the car maker who grades the surveys so unfairly. It's like a school that says you need 100% to pass the course. So as a student, if you get a 90%, do you go complain to the teacher who gave you the mark? Not if you deserved it. The problem is the administration and their unrealistic standards. If they don't listen to your concerns, then I guess you're SOL. Nobody said life was fair. You want to sell this car maker's cars for a living, you have to accept the good with the bad.
Customers should fill out the survey as he/she sees fit. A bribe is still a bribe and shows a lack of integrity of the part of the dealership. The fact that a dealer is graded harshly isn't the customer's problem.