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The Hidden Truth Behind Service Pay and CSI scores.

By  Marilou Vroman, CPA, CFE

In dealerships, pay plans are typically designed to motivate behavior that is beneficial to the dealership.  In simplest terms, sell more cars, earn more pay; generate more gross profit, earn more pay, turn your wrench faster, earn more pay.  These are the basics.  However, in reality we could only wish it were that simple.

As manufacturer caveats have increased influence over the dealership’s bottom line, so has the complexity of many pay plans.  For example, with the tie in of CSI, SSI, SDI, SPSI, BB and countless other acronyms of manufacturer performance indicators with the large financial incentives from OEMs, it’s no surprise these metrics become heavily tied to pay plans.

Unfortunately, there is a costly byproduct of seeking to improve OEM metrics by tying performance to employee pay.  The gateway is opened to pay plan manipulation and impaired communications with customers.  For example, a common scheme we find in the service department is the intentional alteration of a customer’s email address.  There is so much financial pressure to have good scores in the eyes of the manufacturer, employees will often coach the customer or attempt the path of least resistance to ensure a 100% CSI score. The email alteration is typically done after a repair order is printed to prevent a   customer who has had a poor (or less than perfect) service experience from receiving a CSI survey.

It may appear to be a relatively harmless act to an employee, however, changing a customer’s email in the DMS can also prevent the customer from receiving important correspondence, follow-up and valuable marketing initiatives. With the customer’s voice silenced on CSI surveys, upper management also loses the ability to see underlying problems that may be recurring in the department. These issues may become costly.

We recommend a periodic audit of your service history to identify instances where customer emails or other contact information have been altered.  In addition, teach your team the importance of honesty and transparency so poor surveys become opportunities to learn and improve. Ensuring your customers receive high-quality service and satisfaction before any survey gets sent is the best solution.

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