Focus on Improvement, not the Number

Recently, I purchased a Subaru Outback for my son to use for his internship this summer. I went to the dealer to get an oil change along with some minor work, and overall, I had a good experience. On the improvement side, it took them 40 minutes to get a shuttle to take me to my appointment and 45 minutes to pick me up when I was ready. This was slightly disappointing because I had an appointment scheduled and even advised them in advance that I would require a shuttle. They also did not wash my car although their promotional materials shouted they wash the vehicles after every service.

Not big misses – more irritants than anything. On the flip-side, my service advisor was outstanding, knew his stuff, and had the car ready when promised.

Soon after, I began receiving voicemails asking if I received a survey from Subaru, to provide a ‘10’ as anything else was deemed to be a failure. In the span of a week, I received 3 of these voicemails. Not long after, I got an email from the Service Manager with the following note:


This is Kevin _____, Service Director with _____ Subaru service department, Ryan asked me to personally follow up with you concerning your most recent service visit. We want to make sure that he gave you a truly exceptional service visit. He also wanted me to remind you that you may be getting a survey from Subaru, which gets emailed out on Tuesdays. Your survey might already be in your inbox/spam folder. If you would please take the time to fill that out for him, he’d would greatly appreciate it. 10’s are truly his only passing grade. If for whatever reason you’re uncomfortable giving him 10’s, can you please give me a call at 262-544-____ my extension is 7569.

Thanks again,

Kevin _____

Service Director

_____ Subaru

This dealership is more interested in achieving a desired number than getting real feedback from its customers. I speak about auto dealerships ‘gaming’ the system in my book, If the Customer’s the Copilot, You’re in the Wrong Seat. My guess is they are rewarding the dealership and associates based on a NPS or a Net Promoter Score.

The challenge with simply providing a ‘10’ is you can feel great about the score, but I may never come back to your dealership and you don’t why. Maybe the long shuttle times and car not being washed were enough to deter me to find another location to do my service work in the future. Perhaps if you were welcoming customer feedback that is genuine, honest and open, you could correct irritants like what I experienced and begin to build customer trust.

If you want to drive customer improvement at your place of business, be open to customer feedback and genuinely solicit it every chance you get. A number is a great gauge on how your delivering service, if it’s not being built on emails like the above. Focus on the experience and improving at every chance you get. The number you want will come, but not by asking for it.

Brian Dennis

Brian Dennis

Brian Dennis is an author, keynote speaker, consultant and is the former Vice President of Customer Experience for Kohl’s Department Stores. For more than 20 years, Brian has been a customer service thought innovator who has demonstrated proven excellence in his field. He is the author of 2 books on customer service with his newest title ‘If The Customer’s the Co-Pilot, You’re in The Wrong Seat’ hitting #1 on the Amazon Retail Charts. He is recognized internationally as an industry expert and is a sought out keynote speaker, panelist and key contributor on the integration of customer service, omni-channel and retail. Brian was appointed to the Board of Directors for the Fisher House of Milwaukee. The Fisher House provides a “home away from home” for military and veterans’ families to be close to a loved one during hospitalization for an illness, disease or injury.

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