Increasing CSI: Five Tips for Crushing Your Goals

If you’ve been anywhere in automotive in the last few years – you’ll know that everyone cares about CSI. From the Manufacturer to your Manager and the consumer. Not to mention most folks in a dealership now have some portion of their pay influenced by CSI (whether directly or indirectly.)

So, how can we influence these numbers in a tangible and actionable way? First, we need to understand what the score is.

So, what is the Customer Success Index (CSI) and how is it scored?

Customer Success Index (CSI) is used to measure how satisfied customers are with their overall experience at the dealership, usually after purchasing a vehicle or receiving service. 

Many manufacturers have their way of calculating it – often based on metrics customer surveys, feedback forms, and other opportunities where the Voice of the Customer can be heard. They can also include other metrics such as customer retention, referrals, and more.

Why does CSI matter?

Competition between brands and dealers is fierce. This demands a high Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) to stand out and is crucial for the success of the business. Often, this will come with certain perks from the manufacturer (or omission, in the event of subpar scores.)

Everyone in the dealership is a key player in impacting CSI – pure and simple. That said, it tends to fall on the Service Advisor. They are often the face of the interaction with the customer and are seen as the “trusted advisor” in the partnership. This is a big responsibility as they can greatly impact the overall satisfaction of customers.

So, what can we do to make sure those scores remain high along with your paycheck?

1. Create a Welcoming Environment

The old saying that “First Impressions are Everything” is as true today as it was then. When customers visit your shop, the initial interaction sets the tone for the rest of the experience. If you start on a positive note then it is much easier to carry through the rest of the experience than to claw your way back to a half-decent experience.

As a service advisor welcoming customers, you should be conscious of displaying welcoming body language and a genuine greeting – believe it or not, they can feel the authenticity so it is on us to reset when appropriate. One of my favorite examples of this is the “This is Water” speech from David Foster Wallace. We have the power to choose how we interact and respond.

By doing this and asking open-ended questions about the visit, we not only show our curiosity and sincerity in our attempt to help them but also place their needs ahead of any we may have by default leaving the customer feeling valued.

2. Qualify Their Wants and Needs

Active listening is a necessity for ensuring effective communication and the best Service Advisors we’ve worked with have all excelled in active listening. Active Listening is when you truly seek to understand the other party not only with your verbal cues but non-verbal ones as well (e.g. leaning forward when being asked a question).

This enables the advisor to accurately assess, identify opportunities, and convey concerns to the technicians. Engaging the customers in a vehicle walk-around adds a layer of depth to the check-in process that both educates and offers an opportunity to position yourself as an expert. Only then do you get the right to recommend services based on both past service history and current working knowledge of what they’re being seen for today.

3. Know Your Services

You are the customer’s trusted advisor and the reason they selected your location to get their vehicle serviced. Service Advisors play a critical role in recommending suitable services based on the vehicle’s condition, mileage, and service intervals. The customer has a tow package but you didn’t ask if they’ve been towing anything with the hitch, indicating beyond normal driving conditions. So what?

The reality is that failure to recommend could mean a blown-out differential in the future with catastrophic results. Guess who didn’t let them know they needed to change the fluid? That’s right, you! The trusted advisor.



You start to run into trouble if you do not fully understand the services that your location offers – leaving money on the table and customers not getting the service that will ensure their vehicle operates safely and optimally. It is the advisor’s responsibility to guide them to informed decisions on services to be recommended. 

4. You’re Selling the Value

One of the biggest pitfalls of being a Service Advisor is falling into this headspace of “Oh, I don’t want to sell to the customer so I can get better CSI. ” The reality, as we mentioned above, is that it is our duty to recommend these services to our customers and explain the value based on facts collected and expertise gained. After all, we are their trusted advisor.

You’ll always have someone who doesn’t want to spend a dollar but knowing how to overcome the objection and focus on the reality of car maintenance can help you gain a customer for life. Of course, if you don’t believe in what you’re recommending then your lack of confidence will show. (By the way, KT Automotive gives our product for free to advisors to ensure they’re confident in selling. Want a partner just as invested as you are? Let’s connect.)

By presenting the value proposition as opposed to focusing on cost, similar to how the sales team presents the features and benefits of a vehicle, Service Advisors can effectively navigate their customers to the right choice for their needs and that of their vehicle.

5. Implement an Automotive Service Menu: Simplify Decision-Making

If your dealership has not taken the time to deploy a menu presentation approach to help as a guide, then there’s no doubt you’re leaving money on the table. Newer Service Advisors will benefit from the extra help. Senior Advisors will benefit by having their beliefs challenged and opening a new way of doing things (especially for underperforming advisors).

By offering customers multiple options, they are also more likely to make a choice, and presenting a range of service packages and explaining the value and benefits of each can help customers see the value in investing in their vehicle’s maintenance and repairs.

We believe that menu presentations should be a standard practice in the service lane – whether it be paper or virtual.  Introducing an automotive service menu can greatly facilitate the decision-making process for customers and an organized and transparent menu enhances customer trust and satisfaction, leading to a higher CSI.

Results Start Coming Almost Immediately

By implementing these tips and empowering your Service Advisors with the necessary skills and tools, you can significantly improve the Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) at your dealership and the benefits that come along with it. Remember, the service experience is a key differentiator for customers, and a satisfied customer is more likely to become a loyal and repeat customer.

Not sure where to start? Don’t worry, we’re happy to help – reach us here.

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