GULF BREEZE, Fla.—A Florida company that measures customer satisfaction with auto dealerships' service departments wants to do the same for independent tire dealers. The Listener Group Inc. of Gulf Breeze, Fla., is marketing its AutoListener service to tire dealers and other automotive aftermarket service providers.
AutoListener was formed in 1992, said Hayden Powers, director of the automotive aftermarket division at The Listener Group.
As a no-charge introductory offer, AutoListener will perform a one-time-only survey of 50 customers to entice tire dealers to sign up for the service, he said.
AutoListener will send the dealer a report of the survey's results within about two weeks after completing phone interviews with the customers.
The company has about 300 clients—roughly half of them auto dealerships—and surveys an average of about 35,000 customers per month.
AutoListener charges $4.14 per customer to perform a nine-question survey of 100 customers on a monthly basis, he said, but charges vary depending on the number surveyed and the number of questions asked.
Mr. Powers said a subscribing dealership is responsible for providing to AutoListener the home phone numbers of its customers. The company's trained research associates then will make up to five attempts to reach each customer on the list, he said, and will provide an accountability report for all refused, unreachable or incorrect numbers and completed calls.
At the end of each month, AutoListener assembles survey results into a report and sends it to the subscriber.
Mr. Powers said customers often will be more candid in their remarks to AutoListener about the service they received than they would be in a follow-up call from a dealership.
``Acting as a third-party survey company,'' he said, ``people tend to open up to our research associates.''
AutoListener asks customers two types of questions: open-ended ones to elicit comments, and numerical ratings for various aspects of services received. Mr. Powers said in order to get customers to cooperate, the company's research associates are trained to ask questions in a nonconfrontational manner.
Some clients have the researchers offer an enticement—such as a coupon for a free oil change—as an added incentive for customers to agree to be surveyed, he said.
The normal contract length is 12 months, but Mr. Powers said a subscriber can drop out of the program with 30 days notice.
Mr. Powers said his company was contacted by the Tire Association of North America late last year to do a follow-up survey about the 1998 International Tire Expo in Las Vegas.
TANA said The Listener Group also did several other membership surveys for the association in 1999.