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Are customer surveys actually hurting the overall customer experience? It depends

Car dealers rely heavily on acquiring and improving customer feedback, but could those customer surveys hurt the overall experience? Joining us on CBT Now to discuss the findings from the latest Achieving Customer Amazement Study is Shep Hyken, customer experience expert and New York Times best-selling author.

Hyken is all for getting feedback from customers, but when automotive customer surveys come out, they can quite literally be a book. Customers might start off happy from the exceptional service but be thrown a curveball when given a long survey to fill out. This could even anger the customer.

When all is said and done, do you really want your customer to remember the excellent service or the long, drawn-out survey at the end? 

In fact, customers feel almost obligated to complete these surveys, which only adds to the amount of necessary work. Yes, the customer wants to let the world know that the automotive service was great, but does it have to take more than five minutes?

The other obligation comes in when customers are told the urgency and importance of these customer surveys, which Hyken says is likely exaggerated.

Hyken shares that the ACA Study surveyed over 1,000 customers, representing the general population of the US in regard to age, ethnicity, geography, and more. The results were surprising. 

40% of customers have stopped doing business with a company altogether because their customer satisfaction survey was “too long.”

At first, it sounds crazy, but it becomes more and more plausible as you think about it. 

Hyken talks about “survey fatigue,” explaining how you can get the same survey as many as four times in a six-month period. Customers also claimed they’d fill out a survey online and receive a phone call three days later with the same questions, so it almost seems like there is a miscommunication somewhere. 

For Hyken? He says he received a whopping three survey requests for a simple oil change. With customer surveys, Google ratings, and comments on social media, it can feel suffocating at times. 

OEMs will sometimes make the surveys necessary so dealers can access their required resources, which can explain the pressure some dealers may deal with and transfer onto customers. 

So what’s the perfect ratio of survey time? Hyken points out that even five minutes is much too long. Saying a “minute or two” is perfect, whereas “five minutes can lead to ten minutes” and so on. 

Hyken recommends a two-question survey with an open-ended follow-up question. A great example of potential questions would be, “On a scale from one to ten, what is the likelihood that you’d recommend us?”

Car dealers can even use high scores as a way to get more sales and more work.

On the second question, things should get down to specifics. Why did the customer choose you specifically for service? Tailoring the second question to the specific customer helps dealers learn more about certain company sectors. 

You can even divide customer surveys into batches of 100 customers at a time. That’s enough data to see a pattern of where you can improve in certain areas. 

For the third question, the open-ended answer option should help more than hinder. Asking something concerning question two can give the customer more space to elaborate on their experience in their own words. For example, if your dealership was given a six out of ten on the second question, the third question can ask what your company can do to achieve a seven or an eight. 

Hyken’s last tip? Don’t wait too long after the purchase or visit to send over the customer satisfaction survey. Within 24 hours is a great goal, and always deliver your customer surveys anonymously to avoid alienating your customers, or they’ll likely go elsewhere. 

The 2022 ACA Study is available for free here.


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CBT Automotive Network is a multimedia broadcast platform serving automotive professionals. With interviews featuring the biggest names in the industry, daily newscasts following top stories, up-to-date market data, and exclusive articles covering the latest industry trends, CBT is the leading voice of the retail automotive industry.

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