What CSI Can Do For You

Use CSI For More Than Marketing

Body Shop Professional

If you are reading this article, you either own or operate one or more collision centers. Your family name may even be in lights on top of your facility. It’s no secret you are paying good money to get that name in front of as many people as possible.

As an owner, if you are consistent with industry averages, you have approximately 30 years of experience in the collision industry. You definitely know your business. But do you know how your customers view your business and what they think of you? I’m not talking about casual customer feedback that occasionally comes in to you and your employees. I’m referring to what is really on the minds of ALL your customers. Are you sure they’re loyal customers who truly trust and respect you?

If you have all the answers, are sure all your customers are completely satisfied, and have raving fans in your market, there is no need for you to read on. But if you know there is room for improvement, and you are ready to take on the challenge of striving for perfection, then this article is for you.

A proper third-party CSI follow-up program will provide customer information you need to implement the right processes and fine-tune employee performance. It will also give you a suite of marketing materials. Without a follow-up program in place, you will be unaware of most customer complaints. If you don’t know about them, you have no chance to resolve them. You may find it is impossible to retain customers who had a poor experience at your facility. Furthermore, referrals will drop and you may not be able to keep positive word-of-mouth advertising in your market.

The vast majority of upset customers won’t complain to you. Most of them will simply avoid a confrontation, go away mad, and take their business with them. According to Technical Assistance Research Programs of Washington, D.C., for every customer who complains to you, another 26 won't.

Furthermore, each of these 26 unhappy customers will tell an average of 14 to 17 other people about his or her negative experience. According to an article from the Harvard Business Review, if you just listen to an upset customer’s problem without taking any action at all to resolve it, that customer will tell only 7 people of their dissatisfaction. If you listen and attempt to solve the problem, even if your effort is unsuccessful, they will tell no one that they are dissatisfied. Finally, if you listen and then actually solve the problem, that customer will tell 5 people how effective you are. This compares favorably with customers who didn’t have a problem in the first place. They will tell only 3 people, on the average, how happy they are with their good service experience!

When a customer has a complaint, you must be certain to have a tool in place to uncover the problem, and you must have a process ready to resolve it. If both of these requirements are met, you can begin to view customer dissatisfaction as an opportunity rather than a problem. As you ponder these statistics, consider the value and impact of just one customer over the course of their lifetime. CSI follow-up results are a tool that allows you to resolve customer concerns and make sure referrals stay high.

You are probably spending more than $15,000 on advertising each year. Depending on the source, industry statistics show that it costs 4 to 10 times more to draw in a new customer through marketing than to retain an existing customer. New customers are wonderful, but no business owner wants a revolving door of non-loyal customers.

At least 91 percent of your unhappy customers will never use your services again. But if you make a focused effort to remedy your customers' complaints, 82 percent of them will stay with you. If you take rapid action to solve their issues, this percentage is even higher. An immediate e-mail from a CSI company, alerting you that there is an upset customer, can help you solve problems instantly. The result? Increased customer retention.

Make sure your CSI company provides several types of statistical summary reporting, so you can track various CSI categories over time. The reports you receive should also break down CSI by estimator, body technician, and paint technician, which will allow you to set up pay plans based on CSI scores. This not only creates more accountability; it also provides employees with fresh motivation to do their job the way you want it done. Some CSI companies will also provide reports by insurer, cycle time, and customer source. Finding out why someone chose your facility is valuable research information that will allow you to analyze your referrals and the success of certain methods of advertising.

CSI reporting should allow you to benchmark your shop against a national database. This information may influence how aggressive your approach is in making changes. Next, weaknesses can easily be identified and trended, which allows you to make adjustments and measure improvement.

CSI results also provide a tremendous marketing tool. If your CSI history is good, and the CSI information is the final detail that wins you a DRP or makes you number one with several local insurance agents and auto dealerships, what is that worth to you? Having this information for use in general advertising, networks, and roundtable groups is also a great benefit. Having a history of several years of high CSI as reported by a third party is priceless, because of its ability to generate income for you through the years to come.

Since the 2004 Canadian privacy legislation, you may have concerns with passing your customer information to an outside CSI company. A sticker on the repair order that states you care, that customer feedback is very important to you, and that for this reason a third party may be calling, is the solution. Not only will this satisfy privacy laws, it prepares your customers and results in a higher number of completed surveys with more feedback. Your CSI company should provide you with these.

You may be worried that a telephone call might upset your customers. We make more than 500,000 outbound telephone calls each month. In the past 12 months, 0.7 percent of all customers contacted asked to be placed on our Do Not Call list or asked us to never call again (a quality CSI company will never dial this phone number again). At the same time, 10 percent of the customers we called made an added comment that they appreciated our call. These people were impressed that the collision center cared, listened, and allowed them to express themselves.

Finally, your CSI program may have the real-time web-based reports, e-mails, bells and whistles, but never overlook the importance of the quality of the people making the calls. They represent your business, and they must be qualified and trained to do it in the best possible manner. They must be professional, courteous, warm, and kind, and treat every customer with the utmost respect.

Regardless of how you choose to follow up with your customers, make sure to keep this important component as a consistent part of your business plan. It is the essential tool that creates the loyal customers we all strive for.

Dusty Dunkle is President of Customer Research, Inc., a provider of CSI solutions in the automotive industry since 1967. Contact Dusty at 800.886.3472; by e-mail at CSI@CustomerResearch.com; or visit www.CustomerResearch.com