Auto Service World
Feature   December 1, 2001   by Auto Service World

AIA Forum: CSI Isn’t All It’s Been Cracked Up to Be, Says Analyst

Service businesses shouldn’t just rely on Customer Satisfaction Index ratings to determine how well their operations are performing, says industry analyst Dennis DesRosiers.

“Just improving customer satisfaction doesn’t necessarily bring you more business. You can blow millions of dollars trying to bring in these customers and they will just take the money and run back to where they were satisfied.”

He says the problem of correlating CSI to true customer satisfaction is a result of the fact that so many variables outside of customer service determine how happy a customer is. Issues such as how complex on average the jobs performed are and how high the resulting bills are can have dramatic and demonstrable effects on customer satisfaction, regardless of how well the job has been done.

“When you look at corporate-specific CSI it gets problematic. I don’t think you can measure it accurately. In the aftermarket, you’re measuring apples and oranges. One of the reasons why generalists do so well (in CSI ratings) is that they are smart enough to tell people to take the complex problems somewhere else.”

It should be noted that this assertion by DesRosiers was greeted with derision and disagreement by a number of audience members, particularly the service providers present. DesRosiers stands by his assertion, adding that the fact that car dealers and Canadian Tire are saddled with the more complex problems has a detrimental effect on their CSI ratings at large.

“There is a lot of noise in terms of actually measuring it, and I don’t think you’re getting a true picture. Look at it by dollars: The more you spend, the less satisfied you are. If you spend a little money, you are ranked very high, if you spend a lot, you’re ranked low.

“There is also a very high correlation between the vehicle you drive and your level of satisfaction. If you aren’t happy with your vehicle, you’re not going to be satisfied with the repair. It’s just not fair to be ranked low because people have a bad vehicle and you have trouble fixing it.”

As important as measuring customer satisfaction is, it is a slippery topic too often oversimplified, says DesRosiers.

In general, the type of work performed can be ranked in terms of CSI. In terms of descending order, they are: Wheels and tires; Brakes; Accessories; Interior/trim; Final drive; Exhaust; Electrical; Cooling System; Fuel System; Steering; Body; Engine; Transmission; and Ignition.

“Why is the customer unsatisfied? Because they don’t understand what they’ve had done. If you’re going to the consumer and saying give me $500 or $1,000 and they can’t see what they had done, they’re wondering what they spent the money on. Ultimately you’ll be ranked very low. At the end of the day, if I’ve got bright, shiny new tires, CSI ranks very high.

“The whole concept of measuring CSI in the aftermarket is problematic. I still think you can get something out of it within an organization, but it’s not fair to compare organizations because of all the noise surrounding it.”

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