The Consumerist, an online resource for consumers to learn and report about their issues, recently exposed a situation at a Ford Dealership where a customer was advised that if he didn’t rate the service he received as satisfied, the personnel at the dealership would be financially impacted.

In addition, there was an implied threat that the customer would no longer be able to get good service  for his car at that dealership in the future, if a bad score was given as they would know about his complaint.

Something is seriously wrong with the dealership’s implementation of Ford’s customer satisfaction process. From the comments section of this article, it appears that this kind of pressure exists in many car dealerships.

1. Ford has put a financial incentive out to its dealerships to encourage them to ensure their customers are satisfied. This is not a bad policy. In fact, many large organizations provide some form of positive incentive to their organization to promote attaining customer satisfaction objectives.

2. The flaw here is the  management action at the local dealership.  Management has passed the financial  incentive down to its supervisors and staff without the proper guidelines and controls. Management has allowed its staff and supervisors the freedom to address the need for a satisfactory rating in any way they want to.

a. Coercing a customer who is not satisfied into providing a ‘satisfactory rating’ is not what Ford would envision.

b. Threatening a customer with the withdrawal of the ability to obtain service at this dealership is totally unacceptable.

3. Ford appears to have failed to provide its dealerships with acceptable guidelines to use with  its customer satisfaction program.

4. Ford also appears to pass customer information to the dealership without asking the customer’s permission first. If the consumer does not want their name given to the dealership with their rating, they should have the right to remain anonymous to protect them from dealer backlash.

5. The reason that the customer was dissatisfied in this story appears to be due to a Ford policy and that the dealership had no leverage to fix the problem the customer was complaining about. Perhaps the dealership should have focused on escalating the issue to a higher level within Ford and allow them to handle the customer’s issue or found a way to mitigate the customer’s concern locally. It is unknown if Ford provides its dealerships with an escalation process to engage when customer issues beyond  the dealer’s control,  surface.

The same article refers to another story where a customer is offered a free oil change for a satisfactory rating on a customer service survey.

Read both articles at this link.

When implementation of customer satisfaction surveys are not controlled with guidelines and controls, the results obtained will not properly reflect consumer sentiment. In the end, both the consumer and the organization and its dealers will suffer.

What is your opinion? Should those closest to the customer be allowed to handle customer satisfaction any way they please? Leave your comments below.


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Adele Berenstein

Adele Berenstein is an Experienced Customer Satisfaction Executive, recently retired from a Large Global IT Organization after a long productive management career including Sales, Marketing, Services, teaching and education center management and most recently, 19 years in customer satisfaction management. She turned around divisions with customer satisfaction problems, implemented measurable improvements and management systems, and implemented programs to prevent problems from ever affecting customers.

One Response to “Killer flaw in a Ford Customer Satisfaction Survey Program”

  1. Ray Says:

    This is a nationwide issue, not just that local dealership. The best possible score on a survey is 100 percent. However, the worst possible score is NEGATIVE 200 percent!! I literally have lost over $1000.00 in one month because I only had 2 surveys returned that month. One was 100% and the other was – 100% The bad survey scored the service advisor section as “Excellent” but the rest of the survey was scored “Poor” because of the customer’s hatred of the car. So why don’t you do a little more research before you go slamming people who can’t pay their rent because of a stupid survey!
    Thank you

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