“Don’t Coach Me on how to Answer your Stupid Survey,” Mrad writes over at Volksbloggin, a VW-focused blog. The object of his ire: dealers that ask you to give them perfect marks on sales and service satisfaction surveys conducted by the manufacturer. I’ve come across this myself, and read about it often on various forums. Why is this survey process so corrupt, and what could manufacturers possibly learn from it as a result?
First off, I should note that Mrad’s dealer seems to have been about as pleasant as they come. I’ve heard of dealers that were much more insistent on receiving perfect marks, and even of dealers that were rude or that threatened to deny service when they learned that a customer had not given them perfect marks on a survey. The dealer where I bought my Mazda even gave out $25 Outback Steak House gift certificates to customers who were willing to bring the survey in and fill it out in the sales manager’s office.
Why the intense pressure, which is breeding an increasing amount of resentment among car buyers? Because these schemes usually require perfect scores for the dealer and its employees to receive sizable bonuses. This is totally unrealistic, and so is bound to lead to cheating. Even harder to understand: the blind eye manufacturers appear to turn to such cheating.
Ultimately, such surveys are simply no substitute for maintaining frequent, open communication with dealers and customers. If manufacturers really want to know how satisfied customers are with the sales and service experience, they need to find the time and desire to engage in true dialogue with these groups. Customers are much less likely to lie for the dealer when speaking to a manufacturer on the phone or, better yet, face to face. And when I say “speaking to the manufacturer,” I mean speaking to an actual employee of the manufacturer, not some telemarketer paid solely for this purpose and with no personal interest in improving sales and service satisfaction.
In addition, manufacturers’ expectations need to be more realistic, and the reward system much more graduated. Otherwise there’s too much incentive to cheat.
More complicated and expensive? Sure. But the current systems are clearly broken.