How to Create the Best Car Dealership Customer Satisfaction Survey

Car dealership customer satisfaction survey results can play a big part in the future of your business.

Your dealership did it: You made another successful sale. The customer seemed elated as she pulled off your lot, and you congratulated your team on a job well done.

Aside from the fact that you sold a car, do you truly know if the transaction was successful from start to finish?

A customer who was pleased with her actual purchase (the car itself) may not have been quite as thrilled with the way her salesperson talked down to her. Or, maybe she felt pressured into purchasing an extended warranty she wasn’t sure she wanted. It may have even been your website’s functionality that wasn’t too impressive.

To base the success of an entire sale on a smile, a handshake, and an enthusiastic “thank you!” is not smart. It’s essential that you dig a little deeper — after the customer has driven their new vehicle home.

A car dealership customer satisfaction survey is an excellent way to reach out to new customers and get their true opinions about your dealership, staff, and inventory. While you probably like to think a customer would openly share their thoughts in person, that is rarely the reality of the situation. Most customers will either just bottle up their feelings (and later share them with friends, family, and the online community) or say things they may or may not mean in a moment of frustration or excitement.

A dealer satisfaction survey, however, gives the customer some time to sit, think, and provide thoughtful, honest answers in the comfort of their own home. The type of feedback you receive from these surveys can be critical to the success and future of your dealership.

Put effort into creating high-quality dealer customer satisfaction survey questions

As you create your auto dealer satisfaction survey, put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Think about the major purchase they just made and how they feel. Consider basic human nature as well and realize that most people don’t want to answer a long, boring survey. You need to make a list of questions, and then edit, edit, edit. Get your final list of questions down to 10-15, tops.

Not sure what to include? Here are a few tips:

Ask open-ended questions

If possible, make most auto dealer satisfaction survey questions an open-text field where customers can freely express themselves. Allowing customers to explain themselves in their own words helps clarify feelings. Numeric rating scales (“rate our dealership on a scale from 1-10”) can sometimes be confusing to customers, and everyone feels differently about certain numbers.

For example, a customer may rate his or her overall experience as an 8 because it went well, but he or she simply believes “no one is perfect” and a 10 is not realistic. Meanwhile, you see 8 on the survey results and wonder where your team went wrong to get less than a 10 (even if the customer can’t name anything specific and was perfectly happy).

Keep survey questions free of bias

You are sending out a dealer satisfaction survey because you want real, honest answers from customers. That means your questions should not be asked in a leading way, or in any manner that could affect the outcome. This would be an example of a leading question: “Were you happy with the service you received from our award-winning sales team?” This type of wording may influence someone to give you a better review than they were initially planning to. A better way to phrase the question would be, “What did you think of the salesperson who handled your purchase?”

Consider all areas of the dealership the customer may have dealt with

By asking about every aspect of the buying experience — from your website, to the inventory, the receptionist, and even the cleanliness of the bathrooms — you should eventually begin to get a better picture of where things are (and aren’t) going right for customers. They may point out small issues you would never have noticed without their help. Here are some sample questions to get started:

  1. Who was your primary sales associate?
  2. How did you find out about our dealership?
  3. How did you initially reach out to our dealership?
  4. Did we respond quickly to your initial query, and was it to your satisfaction?
  5. How could our digital or phone correspondence with you have gone smoother?
  6. How did our team make you feel welcome and comfortable when you came into our dealership?
  7. Did you feel pressured or uncomfortable at all during your shopping experience?
  8. Did you feel like your questions were answered thoughtfully and thoroughly?
  9. Did your sales person demonstrate expert knowledge of each car you wanted to see?
  10. What was it, beyond the car, that helped you decide to purchase a vehicle with us?

Once you create the auto dealer satisfaction survey, you need to determine guidelines for sending it out. Some dealerships have their salespeople take responsibility for sending out surveys, while others put the responsibility on their Internet marketing department.

Either way, you should ensure these individuals understand your desired timeline for sending out the survey after a purchase has been made. You want customers to answer while their memory of the experience is still fresh, so a good time to send a survey out is the next morning — the day after the sale. This gives them a chance to get home and sleep on it before you ask for their opinion.

Remember, customers are doing you a big favor by filling out your survey, so at the very least, be sure to say thank you! Of course, a coupon for a discount in your service department isn’t such a bad idea either.

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Ty W.
Ty W.

Ty was born and raised in the automotive world. He's an enthusiastic expert who writes exquisite content about cars, automotive sales, and dealership best practices. When not writing for AutoRaptor, you'll find Ty on the golf course.