From our hometown newspaper last week comes a story of a customer of an auto dealer who was retaliated against for a (mildly) negative customer survey. Details are sketchy, but apparently this was a regular customer who had once given the dealer a less-than-perfect score on a survey because of a complaint about the service received. When the customer tried to schedule a service appointment for his car, the dealership told him he wasn't welcome.
Sadly, there are companies which retaliate against customers who give negative feedback, and customers sometimes cite this as a reason for not doing a survey. Retaliation is about the worst possible outcome for a customer survey process, since it makes customers more reluctant to give feedback at all, it distorts the feedback to make it look more positive, and gives customers a distinctly negative impression of the company.
In this particular case we don't know which dealership was involved, but there are some factors that make this more likely in the auto industry:
- Car manufacturers have, in many cases, set unrealistically high satisfaction standards for customer surveys and harsh punishments for dealers which fail to make the grade. Some dealers may feel like they have no choice but to cheat the survey.
- Car buyers usually need to maintain an ongoing relationship with their dealer for service, giving the dealer many future opportunities to retaliate for a negative survey.
- Some dealers see high survey scores as the goal, rather than a way of measuring the true goal of delivering outstanding service. Thus, anything to raise survey scores is OK, no matter what customers may think.
As a result, the auto manufacturers need to be especially aware of the ways their customer survey processes can be manipulated by unscrupulous dealers, and actively work to make the survey work. In this particular case, unfortunately, this did not happen.