Use your CSI system to improve customer communication

Dec. 1, 2017
Whatever CSI system you use, remember to take advantage of it as a marketing tool. We regularly incorporate customer comments into our social media posts.

About 70 percent of shops use an outside vendor to conduct customer satisfaction indexing (CSI), according to one of Mike Anderson and CRASH Network’s “Who Pays for What?” surveys earlier this year. My business is one of them. We take CSI very seriously, because high CSI leads to better relationships with our customers, their insurance companies and others who can refer work to us.

CSI is one of the numbers we look at every day, and we report it out to any staff who don’t have easy daily access to it. We show it as a live, 30-day rolling number. We communicate its importance to our front-office team in part by making it a factor in their payplan. If it ever falls below 90 percent, their commission percentage drops by a point.

Fortunately, I’m not sure I’ve ever had to enforce that; our average typically stays up in the 95 to 97 percent range (thank you, team). 

We’ve used a number of different CSI providers over the years, and in fact, still use two different ones. That’s not my preference; we have one provider we prefer, but one of our direct repair programs requires us to use a specific provider. We’re not alone in that. The “Who Pays for What?” survey found that of the three largest CSI providers, shops cited a DRP or OEM certification requirement as the main reason they chose the CSI provider(s) they use.

I won’t mention names here, but I think it’s worth sharing what I like about our primary CSI provider, in case it helps you evaluate which to choose.

I like our vendor because of the amount of customer feedback it brings us. With previous CSI programs, the response rates were very low. Now we get lots of customer feedback, generally numbering in the hundreds every month.

I like our vendor because the program integrates well with our shop management system.

I also like that our CSI system incorporates updates to our customers during the repair process. We used to handle that with phone calls out to customers on Tuesdays and Thursdays. For some customers and some jobs, that’s not enough. This system allows us to provide about four text or email updates during a repair. The system has some “generic updates,” that basically let customers know things are progressing. But our team loves being able to send more specific text updates, like, “The parts came in today, so we’re off and running.”

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Do all customers like those electronic updates? You need to ask upfront. For me personally, I don’t want a phone call from my dentist’s office reminding me of my appointment, for example. A text about this is great. We find that’s how most customers feel about our updates.

But that’s “most,” not “all.” We ask for their preference because some people prefer email updates to text. And still others, especially some of our elderly customers, still want a phone call. I remember one customer who actually drove to the shop to ask us what the text update we’d sent them meant.

But I also like that the system we use makes it easy for them to opt-out of receiving the updates, if they want. They can reply “stop” to an update text from us, and the system lets us know we need to communicate with them through a different means.

In the two years or so we’ve been using text updates, we’ve seen a big increase in the percentage of customers who indicate through our CSI that we kept them informed adequately during the process.

I also like that the CSI system we use sends a one-question survey to customers right after they’ve picked up their vehicle, asking if they were 100 percent satisfied. If they indicate “no,” we get notified right away, giving us a chance to make things right quickly.

Beyond that, the system sends them a more detailed survey a couple days later.

Whatever CSI system you use, remember to take advantage of it as a marketing tool. We regularly incorporate customer comments into our social media posts. But our system also ties in with an online shop locator that helps consumers find shops with strong customer reviews.

About the Author

Ryan Cropper

Ryan Cropper owns Able Body Shops, with two locations in Anchorage, Alaska, as well as Total Truck Accessory Center.

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