Customer feedback is a valuable tool for businesses of all kinds, and dealerships are no exception. Feedback allows you to fine-tune your operation, strengthening what works and cutting what doesn’t.

Collecting customer feedback can be as simple as speaking one-on-one with a customer throughout the buying process to understand how and why they make the choices they do and how they feel about your dealership’s operation. Some gather feedback by leaving out comment or suggestion cards. However, today, perhaps one of the most powerful methods of gaining insight into customer trends is through post-purchase surveys.

surveysWith the increased popularity of the internet, along with easy-to-use, affordable tools and templates, post-purchase surveys are gaining ground. When done right, these surveys can generate large amounts of data for your dealership steer policies and management.

That said, surveys are only as useful as their construction. A poorly-crafted survey can actually backfire, as it provides confusing, unhelpful, and potentially false information.

To start with, the shorter, the better.  One problem that businesses often run into when creating customer feedback surveys is overcomplicating things. If a survey is long and/or unfocused, there’s a higher likelihood that those taking it will lose interest and leave it uncompleted. They are also apt to get confused as to what they should be answering.

When writing your survey, decide the purpose of the survey first and then include only questions that will lead to the information you need to achieve that goal. If there’s a question you want to ask that doesn’t fit the theme, highly consider putting it to the side and using it on another survey. You’ll find you have a higher completion rate with many short surveys than a few long ones.

Keep response options consistent and straightforward as well. Many times surveys ask for answer rated from one to five, with one being “Excellent” and five being “Terrible.” Later in the survey, however, the order is reversed, with five being “Excellent” and one being “Terrible.” This switch can easily be overlooked by a customer rushing through a lengthy survey.

On that note, having many options to choose from when answering can also overcomplicate the responses. Crafting “yes” or “no” questions make things easier for those taking surveys to quickly and accurately answer.  More options make the survey drag, and puzzle those responding as they struggle to determine where they fall on a spectrum.

In that vein, for the best feedback, try to focus your questions on concrete information, rather than the more abstract and emotional. Think about asking how much time customers waited for service, rather than how they felt about their wait. If enough people are waiting long periods, you can extrapolate that reorganizing your dealership so the wait times are shorter would probably be a good idea.

Try not to ask more than one open-ended question per survey, targeting instead objective data that can be harnessed by your dealership. While customer emotions might range all over the map, facts like how much time they spent researching before finding you, which ads caught their attention, and what model of cars they settle on provide a clearer picture of how your dealership is doing and what might need to be strengthened.

By keeping things shorter and simpler, both in the questions and answers, you’ll soon find your dealership’s surveys yielding better, more useful results.

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