Since implementing a customer satisfaction indexing program earlier this year, Express Tire Auto Service Centers has seen increased customer satisfaction.
The 25-location automotive service company based in San Diego began working with CSi Complete Inc., a market research communication service provider, in early May. The Plain City, Ohio-based company provides customer satisfaction indexing to companies with an emphasis on the automotive industry such as auto insurance companies and paint manufacturers, said David Merrell, vice president of strategic initiatives for CSi Complete.
Mr. Merrell said Express Tire uses one of the company's newest products, the CSi Communicator, which uses interactive phone recorded voice technology. The customer satisfaction monitoring tool is intended to deliver, receive, track and report communication between a company and its employees, customers, clients and suppliers.
Mr. Merrell said that at the end of each day, Express Tire sends CSi Complete the names and phone numbers of every person who had his or her automobile serviced. By the next day, those customers receive a voice recorded phone call that thanks them for their patronage and asks them to answer a brief four-question phone survey about their service experience.
All calls go out between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. Central Time and are sent only once, he said. If a person does not pick up, a message will be left on his or her answering machine with a survey call-back number.
One survey question, Mr. Merrell said, is if the patron would recommend his or her family and friends to an Express Tire store. If the person answers ``no,'' a service alert warning would be generated, he said. A text message would then be sent to the Express Tire customer service representative in California, who would then follow up with that individual.
``It's a proactive way of customer service,'' he said. ``People aren't clued into the fact that they'll be followed up with.''
At the end of each day, CSi Complete compiles all the statistics received from Express Tire customers and sends the information back to be reviewed. It can be delivered through e-mail, home, business or cell phones, fax machines or PDAs.
For the month of June, records showed that Express Tire serviced more than 17,000 customers. Of those, about 10,000, or 58.7 percent, listened to the entire 30-second intro, which was recorded by Express Tire President John Marchioni, something that pleased the company.
Of those customers, Mr. Merrell said about 10 percent answered ``no'' to the question that referenced friends and family to Express Tire.
Mr. Marchioni said that for years, Express Tire employees have called customers to get service feedback. The problem with that, he said, is that there is really no way to know if employees have done their jobs or if there were errors in the data collection. Working with CSi Complete eliminates those problems, he said.
With the CSi Communicator, the success rate of reaching customers is about 70 percent compared with about 25 percent through employees. Those statistics are based on messages left on answering machines or by people who actually completed the survey, he said.
``We didn't realize that we were going to get through to that many people,'' he said.
Mr. Marchioni said his stores use the CSi Communicator as a safety net, not a solution. It ensures that Express Tire employees are aware of customer dissatisfactions and allows them to improve problem areas. Most often, he said, customers are upset by little things such as the time it took to complete a service or employee communication skills.
``Within 24 hours, we know we have somebody who wasn't quite happy,'' he said. ``I want to know honestly what's really going on.''
CSi Communicator allows him to do that because most customers who answer the survey don't realize that Express Tire knows who they are, what services they had done and what store they visited.
``It's kind of like complaining to the cook,'' he said. Most people don't want to make a complaint knowing they will likely bring their car back to that same service shop.
If a person receives a message on his or her answering machine-and he or she was happy with the service experience-that person likely will delete it and move on, he said. But if someone was displeased, he or she most likely will take the time to pick up the phone and complain because people assume the survey is anonymous.
Mr. Marchioni said he has received nothing but positive feedback from customers who received follow-up calls from a customer service representative.
``The consumers are elated that we call and we care that much,'' he said.
Mr. Marchioni said the CSi Communicator also ensures that employees perform to the best of their ability because they're aware customers will be called and because their bonuses are tied to customer service.
Mr. Marchioni said Express Tire will continue to stay on top of customer satisfaction.
``Today's solutions are just tomorrow's problems,'' he said.