Completing Car Dealership Surveys ~Things You Should Know

Car Dealership Surveys
I am writing about things you should know when completing car dealership surveys.  Specifically, what you should know when you have your car serviced at a car dealership.  A plea by a car dealerships service department asking for specific survey responses was brought to our attention.  We read and responded to the tweet shared by an attorney we follow on Twitter.   We would like to take this opportunity to help you make an informed decision about what happens with your responses to these surveys.

Car Dealership Surveys


Mr. Glover's reaction to this dealership's request for a good rating is very common.  Most people don't realize how the customer satisfaction surveys are utilized by car dealerships.  The tweet caught my eye because this is a subject I relate to every day.  Why?  I'm related to two service writers.



What Service Writers/Advisors Do

Service writers, also known as service advisors, are the intermediaries between customers and the technicians who perform service on your car.  Duties of a service writer involve developing cost estimates. When a customer requests a repair, the service writer logs what parts are needed, how much time should be allocated to make the repair and schedules the appropriate technician for the job based on the customer and their repair needs.  They are the hub of the wheel of many spokes involved in servicing your car.  There are mechanics, salespeople, rental car fleet managers, and those who change oil and detail the cars.  It can often be a thankless job as service writers are most often the messengers of bad news. They are the ones delivering news to the customers and to their internal customers.  Trust me when I say that they would prefer not to have to give bad news.


The Good and Bad Customers

Some days it seems as if all of the customers are difficult.  There are the customers who drive their cars for thousands of miles and don't do any upkeep and are surprised at the high cost of neglecting their cars when things go wrong. They have customers who are forgetful and don't remember how to remove their keys from the ignition and return day after day with the same problem.  They help people fix things that they could have learned from the user manuals.  Some customers lie about things that happen with their vehicle to try and get it repaired for free under warranty.  Frequently, customers who show up without an appointment even though they have scheduled maintenance which could have been pre-arranged and then demand that they get preferential scheduling.
Frustrated Customer
Good customers do exist!  There are those who bring homemade cookies every time they visit.  Some will seek out the service writer's supervisor to share their positive remarks.  The writer's I know have received hand-written thank you notes for the way they helped their customers save money or navigate through a lengthy repair process.


Service Writers as Advisors

Very often, the service writers I know, counsel their customers.  They teach them how to maintain their vehicles.  They provide guidance about future problems with their vehicles that may be upcoming and suggest the customer budget for future repairs accordingly.  Some customers are having a bad day.  Customers like the young girl who was having tire problems on her way home from a 5-hour road trip.  She was lamenting about how bad things were and this is what she was told:  “You should think of this in a positive way.  You were away from home with no support and no easy way to fix your vehicle.  You made it home safely and now after your repairs, all is well.”  She said “Thank you.  I never thought of it that way.”


There is More to Completing Car Dealership Surveys Than You May Know

How you respond can have a major financial impact on the families of employees.

When you have your car serviced at a dealership and receive a survey, the answers are often used to calculate the employees' bonus pay.  There are multiple employees affected.  Not only the mechanics but also the people with whom you discuss the problem. Just one answer other than 100% and any other answer but “yes”, negatively impacts everyone's pay.  As an article from states, “Anything less than an “A” is an “F”.  This is true not only for salespeople but also the service people.  One customer who is angry can make the difference in a service writer's family being able to pay a bill.  It also makes budgeting difficult as families of service writers will only know the base amount from month to month.  The angry person who didn't make an appointment and was angry because they had to wait all day can wreak havoc on that month's income.  Families are on pins and needles the day the survey results are published.


Providing Feedback

Within the survey, there are ways to voice complaints without affecting the service employee's pay. At the end of surveys, there is usually a comment section.  This is the place for customers to address any concerns that have arisen during the estimate and repair process. These comments do not affect the overall scoring of the employee. If a customer thought the wait was too long, for example, saying that in the survey comment would likely be a better option than giving the service writer a score less than 10.  The issue is addressed without affecting those who are not responsible for the problem that leads to the complaint.  Customers can always ask for a supervisor.  The supervisor will know who is responsible for the issue and can take steps for correction. Providing good feedback can be just as important.  It's possible depending on the dealership, for good employees to be rewarded.


Consequently, I am now more aware of the impact of any survey I complete. Whether it be car dealership surveys, medical offices or any customer service profession.  I try to ask the person how my comments impact them.

For more details about car dealership surveys, read this article from Edmunds which goes into more detail about why car salespeople ask for top survey scores.  The information is also mostly true for service writers and automobile service technicians.