The CSI Scores in my Service Department are Dropping!

By Ted Ings, Executive Director

Are your CSI scores tanking? Take charge and turn things around with these strategies.

The Customer Satisfaction Index is one way manufacturers rate their dealerships. Bigwigs at the very top pay close attention to these scores, and if your store's ratings are dropping, funding can be cut and jobs can be lost. So, you better do something to fix the problem – and you better do it fast. 

Get your customers smiling, pump up your CSI scores 

CSI scores aren’t a reflection of how well your team is taking care of your customers’ vehicles. They’re a metric for how well you're caring for your customers. If CSI scores are slipping, there are a few key ways to address the concern. 

1. Do an interactive service walk-around on every vehicle. 

Walk-arounds are one of the best ways to improve your CSI score. When a car first comes in, the service advisor and customer should walk around it together. That way, they can discuss any potential repair or maintenance items.


For example, the employee may notice the vehicle’s tires are bald, or the owner may point out a concerning fluid leak. Walk-arounds go a long way towards ensuring nothing gets missed, and the customer is well taken care of.

2. Explain the benefits of maintenance and repair.

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Jobs like a cabin air filter replacement may sound like a gimmick to a layman. Customers often believe maintenance and repairs are sales ploys unless your advisors explain the benefits of such services. It’s unfortunate, but bad actors in the auto industry have made it so your team must justify nearly every recommendation.

3. Give status updates.

Customers want to know the status of their vehicle even when there’s nothing new to report. It’s comforting to know the car is in the shop and progress is being made. No one wants to feel like just another repair order number, lost in the shuffle. And of course, it's paramount to update the customer when something new happens (i.e., the repair is going to be more extensive than expected, the car must stay overnight, etc.).

4. Don’t forget common courtesies.

All too often, service teams forget common courtesies such as saying thank you, providing a handshake and smiling. As a result, customers view advisors as rude and CSI scores plummet.

5. Remind the customer of the CSI survey.

Most consumers have no idea what a CSI survey is, let alone the importance it holds. Advisors may want to remind customers a survey from the automaker will arrive in a couple of days. Stress that the answers they give accurately reflect their experience at your store, as the results are important to the dealership. 

6. Ask questions.

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If your CSI scores are down, it helps to find out why. Advisors can ask questions of the customer, such as how their experience was and if anything could have been done differently. If the vehicle owner wasn’t completely satisfied, find out what can be done to improve their experience. 

7. Acknowledge every customer.

Few things are more annoying to a customer than being ignored. Even if advisors are busy with another guest, or on the phone, they should take the time to acknowledge each person who approaches their desk.

8. Address complaints immediately.

If, for whatever reason, a customer is unhappy, address the issue immediately. Putting off someone’s concerns sends the signal they don’t matter. The response to such treatment is almost always frustration and anger. And angry individuals never give positive CSI ratings. 

9. Stress how important CSI scores are.

To get great CSI scores, everyone needs to be onboard. Remind your team how important the rating is to both the store – and their jobs. Hopefully, that will prompt everyone to work together to improve the customer experience. 

10. Clean up shop.

Some CSI questions have nothing to do with personal interactions, but instead, cover topics such as how clean the restrooms and waiting room are. So, it pays to keep a tidy store at all times. 

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11. Make sure vehicles are repaired right.

Advisors are often saddled with the responsibility of CSI scores, but techs play a role, too. If cars aren’t getting fixed right the first time, negative ratings will ensue. Technicians must do their best on every repair job to keep this from happening. 

12. Treat customers like family.

It’s somewhat of a cliché for businesses to say they treat customers like family. But, if your store backs up that claim, and deals with each visitor like grandma or grandpa, your CSI scores will surely improve. At the end of the day, most people want simply to be treated with compassion and respect. 

CSI is all about…customer service 

It’s easy to overlook the basic fact – the CSI score is all about customer service! If your scores are dwindling, the best place to raise them back up is by returning to the basics in customer service. When you do those well, CSI scores will follow.