Stay on the line to participate in a survey! Save this Receipt to Take a Survey and a Chance to Win! You know how it goes. Big companies to little companies are doing whatever it takes to get you to submit your feedback. It feels good knowing a company wants to hear your honest opinion and what could be wrong with that?

What you may not know is exactly how these surveys are used against the employees and businesses. This entry is partly based on my personal experience working for a major car brand and what that brand does with those survey’s to its dealerships.

#6 Require Perfect Scores

When someone asks for your opinion and you give it you expect them to listen, yes? One Major Car Brand asked you questions based on a scale from 1 to 5. 1 was poor, 2 was Fair, 3 was Good, 4 Very Good, 5 Outstanding. As a customer, everything may have been excellent with my experience with the dealership, however I may be upset with a certain recurring problem on my vehicle. So when asked my opinion I decide to give a 4, Very Good.

What the customer doesn’t always realize, is according to corporate, anything below a 5 is a failure on the dealerships part (really the service advisor, more on that below). So a customer is attempting to give an honest answer, selecting from one of the options the car brand is offering, and not realizing that their true opinion doesn’t matter. You may mean Very Good, but they decide to call that Poor instead.

Example of GM Survey

#5 Don’t Fully Disclose The Weight of The Questions

On top of the fact that the car brand is taking what is your true opinion and deciding to ignore it if it isn’t saying they were perfect, they also don’t let you know what really matters. On this particular survey, there was a total of about 26 questions. What the survey didn’t tell you, was that the ONLY question that the dealership was graded on was question #2, “What was your overall opinion of your visit at this dealership.”

A customer sits there and takes the time to answer every single questions honestly. However, all their opinions aren’t truly being taken seriously. All that matters is one single question that determines the employee’s and dealerships bonuses. This also puts the burden of informing customers correctly on the dealership, which to some can come off as inappropriate. Leading me to the next thing they don’t tell you…..

#4 Your Opinion Can Change Someone’s Paycheck

Your Service Advisor at the dealer is the only one the survey counts for. So when you answer #2 asking you “what was your overall opinion about this dealership on a scale from 1-5” that’s not what they really mean. A customer wanting to answer honestly with a 4 like the example from #6, may not realize that their opinion isn’t being used for what they think. Dealerships gets bonuses based on their Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI), and employees either have bonuses they depend on depending on your answer to how your “overall dealership experience” was. Some Car Brands even base their actual salary on their CSI score.

Think about it. This particular car brand I worked for had a chronic problem with oil consumption in their newer model vehicles. Customers were constantly getting warnings about Low Oil, during summer time this was almost always when they were driving on vacation. The problem was never fixed after one visit, and sometimes the only fix was a NEW ENGINE! That is a MAJOR repair for a brand new car.

Now, your advisor was incredibly helpful the entire time. They provided you a loaner car, updated you in a timely manner, treated you like a true VIP and did whatever they could to make up this inconvenience to you. When it comes time to taking your survey, you answer honestly how you feel through all the questions. Questions about the manufacturer, the convenience, and question #2 asking you about your overall experience. You give it a 4, Very Good. Sure everything was excellent regarding customer service, but this was the 4th time you’ve had to bring your car in. You’re upset. Did you know…..

... reviews | by Gayla Baer

#3 The Question’s Purposely Mislead You

There is an entirely separate question specifically asking you things about your Service Advisor. Your Service Advisor is the person who you drop your vehicle off with, will call with any recommendations, and follow up with you after the fact. They are the dealership to you. Usually the only person you’ll deal with. Which is why in the specific survey I’ve been addressing out of 26 questions, there are at least 5 or 6 devoted to your advisor's ability in taking care of you correctly.

They ask whether your advisor was in contact with you, did they explain things for you clearly, and your overall opinion on your Service Advisor. The customer would of course answer all those with Outstandings… not realizing that the questions that ask about your Service Advisor, don’t actually do anything for them. It is the question #2 that determines their pay or even their future with the company. However, you won’t see any disclaimers about this before taking the survey.

#2 Require Begging from Employees to Customers

Thanks to the shady wording and weighting of the questions, dealerships have had to take things into their own hands. At the dealership I was at, every single person in the Service Department, especially advisors, had to inform the customer that they needed to select a 5 for Outstanding, because anything less than that was a failure and it only counts for the advisor, like their report card.

Basically, the employee is telling you the the question that doesn’t ask about the advisor is the only one that counts for the advisor. To some customers, this was inappropriate as they were basically being told what to say. For the advisor, they had no choice but to go about it this way because of how misleading the whole survey was.

Example of what Dealers are forced to do

#1 Ruins Loyal Customer Relationships

Any customer who yelled, screamed, threatened, or cursed, was given whatever it is they wanted. This would amount to as high as $1,000 of free work. Why do this? Because 1 or 2 bad survey’s could break you for that quarter, and cost you thousands of dollars. If your advisor follows policy it could cost him his money to support his family that week. So you do whatever it takes to get the customer happy, and give you the 5.

Our Service Manager, knowing the surveys power, would have no choice but to comp things constantly. What does this mean for the loyal customers? The customers who come back like clockwork? Who buy car after car from our dealership, spending thousands and thousands in service work? When they need some help, there's nothing left to give.


I truly wonder if those behind the survey’s everywhere, especially in the car business, truly understand what they are doing. Customer service is no longer honest or genuine. It has become a system of rewarding the customer who uses the survey like a loaded weapon. I can’t count how many customers would decide they didn’t like the price of something and refuse to pay. It was as simple as that, no exaggeration.

It’s become a system of using a customer's honest words of feedback to the company as a weapon. We no longer want to hear honest ways we can improve, because the survey doesn’t allow us to do so. It tells us we must be perfect, and it must be now. It doesn’t allow for a single angry customer here or there.

It asks you if you had the greatest time ever bringing your car in for an oil change. Corporate, who manufactures the car asks if you were happy when your battery died and you had to visit the dealer. Well, you’re not happy about it and you let them know that when they send their survey asking. Instead of taking responsibility as the people who built that vehicle, they hold it against the dealer, who had nothing to do with building it, but was just there when you needed it fixed.

What about those customers, who decide that since the automatic brakes didn’t stop them from hitting a car when they were going 30mph (don’t even bother telling them it doesn’t work that way), they want it fixed for free? They get it for free.

Now, the customers who berate us, yell, and threaten are given goodwill repairs. Those who treat us kindly and with respect? Well, they go about it the right way and thanks to the survey system, it has become the wrong way.