CSI Reference Guide






In January 1995, General Motors introduced a new Customer Satisfaction Information (CSI) survey process to separately evaluate customers' retail purchase and service experiences.  Since introduction, it has proven to be a very effective tool for GM and its Dealers to assess and track dealer performance to the GM Retail Standards.  In our ongoing pursuit to achieve total customer enthusiasm and increase loyalty, we must continue our efforts to "completely" satisfy customers in all aspects of their dealership experiences.

Please take the time to review this revised CSI Reference Guide to become familiar with the overall process, as well as report changes resulting from GM's field reorganization.

In keeping with our continuous improvement commitment, GM is moving to web-based reporting for CSI.  Currently, online reporting is being phased-in for GM wholesale personnel.  Dealers will be brought online as soon as all phases have been successfully completed.



SECTION 1 – Overview of CSI

          What is CSI?

          Background and Rationale for CSI

SECTION 2 – CSI Surveys

          Design and Implementation

          Survey Content

          Sample CSI Questionnaires

SECTION 3 – CSI Data Processing

          Reporting Methods

          Data Reported/Timing

          Survey Coding and Response Editing

SECTION 4 – CSI Dealer Reports

      Types of Monthly Dealer Reports

          1. Dealer Executive Summary:  Point Summary/Trend Graphs

          2. Divisional Summary

          3. Personnel Performance Summaries

          4. Response Detail Summary

SECTION 5 – CSI Data Calculation/Interpretation

          Types of CSI Survey Questions/Responses/Scores


                       A "Yes/No" Percentage

                       An Index

                       % Top Box

          Interpreting and Understanding CSI Data:

                "Yes/No" Percentages and Index Scores

                Importance of % Top Box

          Number of Surveys, Response Rates, and CSI Reliability



APPENDIX A:  Customer Comment Codes/Categories

APPENDIX B:  Routing of Surveys with Comments and Dissatisfied Customer Surveys



  Intended Use of the CSI Reference Guide

>   CSI Survey Process
Effective with October 1, 1997 sales/service events, GM customers received newly enhanced CSI surveys. This was the first revision to CSI since the new process was introduced in January 1995. The refinements resulted from extensive data analyses and user feedback from dealers and wholesale personnel. All survey changes were thoroughly tested among thousands of GM customers. Also, revisions to both the surveys and reports have been reviewed with select dealers.


>   Purpose of this
The CSI Reference Guide will fully explain the CSI survey and reporting process, and indicate how the information can be used to achieve desired levels of customer satisfaction. Where necessary, the Guide will provide background information that allows you to better understand some of the underlying concepts.


>   Organization of
      this Guide
The Reference Guide is organized into five sections. The sections cover areas such as "Surveys" and "Reports." Within each section you will see content broken out into several headings or topics.

    Click here to go back to Table of Contents

Overview of CSI

What is CSI?
>   CSI CSI stands for Customer Satisfaction Information.


>   Survey Process The CSI Survey Process provides General Motors and its dealers with useful information from customers regarding their dealership experiences, in order to improve customer satisfaction.


>   Common 
All vehicle divisions (except Saturn in the U.S. and SSI in Canada) use the new CSI Survey Process. Customers of all divisions receive divisionally identified surveys that have a common GM "look." The format, organization, and content are basically the same. Multi-line dealers receive the same reports in the same format for all makes. Specifically, the divisions participating in the process are:

     -  Buick
     -  Cadillac
     -  Chevrolet
     -  Saturn
     -  Pontiac      -  HUMMER      -  GMC
     -  GM of Canada


>   Surveys are
The primary purpose of the CSI Survey Process is to evaluate dealer performance to the GM Retail Standards. These Standards define what customers want and expect when buying or servicing a vehicle. The CSI Survey Process is a way of providing feedback on how well the Standards are being met.


>   All Customers are
All retail customers are eligible to be surveyed. Every customer has an opportunity to give feedback on both their purchase and service experiences. Because we do not sample, there is no need to weight the data—each customer counts as one.


>   Surveys are
The surveys are triggered by the reporting of a new vehicle delivery or warranty service claim by the dealer to General Motors.

By having two types of surveys, a Purchase and Delivery Satisfaction Survey (PDS) and a Service Satisfaction Survey (SSS), more timely feedback can be provided to both the selling and servicing dealer. In addition, contact is maintained later in the ownership cycle, when customers are more likely to repurchase.


Ownership Cycle

    (2823 bytes)
>   The Governing
The CSI Survey Process is the product of an ongoing, collaborative effort. A steering committee composed of GM sales, service, and research representatives oversees the process. In addition, GM also calls on the expertise of leading-edge marketing research and data systems firms to help refine and implement the CSI process.


Background and Rationale for CSI

General Motors utilizes the CSI Survey Process as part of an overall Customer Enthusiasm strategy established to address a changing automotive marketplace. In order to appreciate the significance of CSI, it is important to understand the development and scope of GM’s Customer Enthusiasm strategy.

>   Changing 
      Market of the 90's
Consumers expect product quality as a given

The pressure of global competition has created a more level playing field for quality products. Quality throughout the automotive industry has continued to improve and is now the price of entry.


Consumers expect increasingly higher levels of customer treatment

The "consumer movement" has taught consumers to be educated buyers and to insist on quality products and services. As the minimum acceptable level for product quality has been raised, so too have customers’ expectations about how they are treated.

U. S. manufacturers are closing the gap with imported products in actual and perceived product quality.

As we move toward product parity, competition is now based on non-product attributes. The arena has shifted to customer treatment as the defining variable in the purchase decision. Providers of customer service have sharpened their ability to meet customer expectations.


Purchase Motivation

Customer loyalty cannot be taken for granted. In fact, customer loyalty many times means "what have you done for me lately?" Therefore, customers’ expectations must be met each and every time they visit a GM dealership. Every employee is responsible for customer satisfaction. By creating retail experiences that exceed customer expectations, we can achieve customer enthusiasm.


>   Importance of 
Satisfying customers completely is more critical to success today than it was just five years ago. In fact, complete customer satisfaction is now the industry benchmark with proven ties to owner loyalty. The rewards for recognizing changes in customer expectations and consistently meeting them include:

-  increased customer loyalty
-  higher sales of vehicles, service, and parts
-  greater market penetration
-  improved profits

The CSI Survey Process is part of the strategy to maintain the needed customer focus and aim at completely satisfying customers in all aspects of the dealership sales and service experience.


>   Customer 
The key to providing true customer satisfaction lies first in identifying customer wants and expectations and then putting in place systems that will meet those wants and expectations each and every time. General Motors conducted extensive research to identify what customers want and expect when buying or servicing a vehicle.

Not suprisingly, the research concluded that customers want:

-   to feel that GM and its dealers care about them and
     appreciate their patronage

-   to be treated in a professional, fair, and courteous

-   a clean and comfortable environment where the facility
     appears business-like and the people are friendly

-   the same professional treatment from all GM dealers
     and a strong, positive, consistent image from everyone
     in the "GM family"

Simply meeting customer expectations is not enough to differentiate products and dealers in the competitive marketplace. GM’s goal is to create retail experiences that exceed these expectations and achieve an even higher level . . . customer enthusiasm!


>   Retail/Wholesale 
The research into customer expectations led to development of GM Retail and Wholesale Standards. The Standards indicate what must be done to ensure customers’ expectations are being met.


>   Dealer's Role A starting point is to determine where deficiencies may exist and what improvements would be beneficial. Using CSI, dealers can measure their organization against the Standards. It is up to each individual dealer to develop and put in place procedures to meet customer expectations. Effective practices should be reinforced. New processes can be implemented to take corrective action where necessary. An optional CSI Diagnostics package is available to help dealers identify their "Primary Improvement Opportunities." For more information about Diagnostics, see Section 5, or contact your market area representative.

Click here to go back to Table of Contents

CSI Surveys

Design and Implementation

>   Survey Design/
The design of the CSI purchase and service surveys was driven by extensive customer research, with dealer review and input. The wording and sequence of questions, the scales used, and the layout/format were thoroughly evaluated prior to implementation.

Each survey is a single, legal-sized page, printed on each side and personalized with the customer’s name, address, vehicle, and dealership name. Service also includes the date of the event. Providing these details reduces customer confusion and helps focus on the specific vehicle and visit.

The survey questions are ordered to reflect a typical purchase or service sequence to assist customers in recalling the event.


>   Language Versions Customers with Hispanic surnames from select dealerships in heavily populated Hispanic areas of the U.S. receive surveys in both English and Spanish. In Canada, customers receive surveys in either French or English, depending on the language preference indicated on the delivery or warranty record.


>   Scales Generally, there are two types of questions—"scaled" and "yes/no."

A uniform scale is used throughout the surveys. The scale was developed through extensive testing that covered four key issues:

              - number of points (boxes)
              - direction of the scale (from positive to negative vs.
                negative to positive)
              - wording of scale labels
              - which boxes are labeled

Research also was used to test a list of 33 key words and phrases that could be used to describe a customer’s satisfaction (e.g., "completely satisfied," "ecstatic," "not at all satisfied," "terrible") to confirm that the words chosen for the CSI scale had consistent meaning among customers.

As a result of this research, the following five-point scale is used on CSI surveys for customers to indicate their levels of satisfaction.


    (1710 bytes)
Research has indicated that this scale allows customers to express opinions about their experiences in meaningful terms. The top response is high but achievable.


>   Survey Design/
Purchase and Delivery Satisfaction Survey (PDS)

This survey is mailed to all eligible retail purchasers and lease customers about five weeks after purchase. Mailing of the survey is triggered by new vehicle delivery reporting. Therefore, it is critical for dealers to report delivery information accurately and in a timely manner.

Service Satisfaction Survey (SSS)

This survey is mailed to retail customers within about four weeks of a warranty service visit. The mailing is triggered by prompt reporting of a warranty claim. Customers can only receive one survey in a 90-day period and no more than three per year. Also, no service survey is mailed to a customer in the first 60 days of ownership.

Service continues to include both new and previous model year vehicles under warranty. Policy adjustments and campaign corrections also are included in the process. These events can be surveyed up to two years beyond the manufacturer warranty period. Research indicates that customer satisfaction tends to be higher among customers having campaign or policy adjustment experiences.


>   The Survey
The survey package is sent directly to the customer by GM. The dealer does not take any special action to initiate a survey. Included within the survey package is a postage-paid, self-addressed return envelope. A reminder postcard is sent to all customers within a week of the initial survey mailing.


Survey Content
>   General Content Survey questions focus on behaviors and observable conditions addressed in the GM Retail Standards. The questions are grouped into subject areas as follows:

     Purchase and Delivery Satisfaction Survey
     -    Dealership’s Facilities
     -    Sales Consultant
     -    The Financial Process
     -    Summing Up the Experience

     Service Satisfaction Survey
     -    Dealership’s Service Department
     -    Service Consultant/Advisor
     -    Service Delivery
     -    Summing Up the Experience


>   Questions About
      Key Contact
Customers are asked to provide an assessment of how well key contact employees are meeting the Standards. The Purchase and Delivery Survey has a section with several questions targeting the Sales Consultant. The Service Survey has a specific section about the Service Consultant/Advisor and many questions that reflect on the Service Technician.

These questions about specific dealership employees provide useful information to dealers about the treatment their customers receive.


>   Product
There is only one product satisfaction question on each survey, and it appears at the end of the summary section. It asks how satisfied customers are with their vehicle.

As you can see, the CSI purchase and service surveys focus on areas over which the dealer has control.


   Click here to view the Purchase and Delivery Satisfaction Survey

    Click here to view the Service Satisfaction Survey

    Click here to go back to Table of Contents

CSI Data Processing

    Reporting Methods

>   24-Hour Faxes/
      Weekly Mailings
Dealers receive feedback on a continuous basis. All surveys with negative comments requiring immediate attention are sent by fax to dealers within 24 hours of receipt. Copies of all faxes and the remaining surveys with comments are mailed to dealers weekly (except surveys from customers requesting anonymity).


>   Monthly Aggregated
There are separate reports for purchase and service. They are mailed monthly to dealers that reported the transactions.

Reporting is common across all divisions. Multi-line dealers receive consolidated data for the location as well as scores broken out for each division.

Included in the monthly report package are an Executive Summary, a Divisional Summary (for each division at the location), Personnel Performance Summaries targeting key customer contact employees, and a Response Detail Summary (for each division) that displays individual customer’s responses to every survey question.

[For complete report descriptions and examples, see Section 4.]


    Data Reported/Timing

>   Reporting Period Data is reported based primarily on events that occurred in a given calendar month. Reports include all surveys returned within 30 days of the mailout date. Past experience indicates that most surveys are returned within 30 days. Surveys returned beyond the cutoff date will not be included in any score calculations. However, they will be returned to the dealer if they contain comments. They also will be displayed in a separate section on the Response Detail Summary report if they are returned between 31-45 days after mailing.


>   New Dealers When there are changes in ownership of a dealership, historical information will not be transferred to the new dealer.


>   Employee Changes If an employee changes dealerships, the employee’s data is not transferred to the "new" dealership. The employee will start fresh with the "new" employer. However, the scores for the employee who leaves a dealership will continue to be reported as part of that dealer’s history.


>   Report Timing Timing of reports is based on surveys returned for events that occurred the last week of a given month. Timing also takes into account . . .

          -  the length of time dealers take to report events
          -  processing and mailing of the survey
          -  the 30 days allowed for a customer to complete and
              return the survey (which is standard in the research
              industry for mail surveys)
          -  data processing and score tabulation
          -  report preparation and mailing

The title pages in each monthly report package indicate the mailing week anticipated for the following month’s report.


    Survey Coding and Response Editing

>   Survey Coding All comments written anywhere on the survey will be coded (separated) into categories. These categories and the disposition of the survey comments are provided in Appendices A and B.


>   Survey Editing Most customers have no difficulty filling out a survey and checking boxes appropriately. However, if a customer checks two or more boxes for the same question or places a check between two boxes, there is no attempt to interpret. No response for that question will be reported. However, clearly indicated corrections, such as a scratched-out box, are acceptable.


>   Multiple Mentions The only question on either the Purchase/Delivery or Service Satisfaction Surveys where more than one response is allowed is on service Question 12. Therefore, responses to this question may total more than 100%.

Click here to go back to Table of Contents

CSI Dealer Reports

 Types of Monthly Dealer Reports

>   Dealer Executive
A special, high level summary has been designed for
dealership executives, providing an overview of
both purchase and service for all divisional brands at
the location point.

There are two basic components to the Purchase and
Delivery and Service Satisfaction Executive
Summary reports:

Dealer Point Summary

          -  Summary scores for a few "key" overall questions.
          -  Current 3-month and 12-month averages for each
              division and the entire location point. The Point Total
              is based on all surveys returned. None of the data are
          -  Both Index scores and Top Box percentages for the
              two primary overall questions, "Overall Dealership
PDS Q14 and SSS Q16.
       -  A 3-month summary of surveys mailed and returned.

Trend Graph Summary

Separate graphs compare a dealership's most recent scores to the market area and region, and include:

          -  Both Index and Top Box scores trended for the two
              primary overall questions (PDS Q14 and SSS Q16).
          -  Purchase graphs for Overall Sales Consultant (Q10) and
              Overall Financial Process (Q13).
          -  Service  graphs showing trends for Overall Service
(Q10) and Fixed Right This Visit (Q13). A
              memo line also appears for % All Service Concerns

Remember, the two primary Overall Dealership Satisfaction questions—PDS Q14 and SSS Q16—are considered the most significant on each survey. They receive the most prominence in all dealer reports. Scores for all subordinate questions should be reviewed to provide greater insights about these two measures.


     Things to look for in the Dealer Executive Summary:

*      How do the 3-month scores compare with the 12-month scores?
*      If the location has more than one make, are there differences in scores
        across divisions?
*      How do divisional scores compare to Point Total scores?
*      How many customers were surveyed in the 3-month period?
*      How wide is the range of scores for all questions?
*      Is performance consistent from period to period ?
*      Are there any downward trends requiring immediate attention?
*      Are current scores above or below market area/region scores?
In an actual monthly package of reports, the Executive Summary is placed on top, allowing quick retrieval and review of the dealership's overall sales and service performance.

Click here to view the Sample Dealer Point Summary for Sales

Click here to view the Sample Dealer Point Summary for Service


>   Divisional
There are separate divisional summary reports for purchase and service. Each report provides:

          -  Current 3-month and 12-month scores for the dealer in
              comparison to the market area, region, and division.
          -  Scores for every question on either the PDS or SSS survey.
          -  A separate divisional summary for each make at the
              given location.
          -  Survey response rates for the current 3-month and
             12-month periods.


Things to look for in the Divisional Summary:

*      How do the 3-month scores compare with the 12-month scores for the dealer?
*      How do the dealer scores compare with the market area, region, and division?
*      Are the strengths and weaknesses similar?
*      Are the differences for the 3-month and 12-month scores similar for each
        comparison group?
*      If any one of the key question scores on the Point Summary requires further
       investigation, the detailed questions for that area should be reviewed on the
       Divisional Summary report.

Once differences are identified, they should be reviewed to determine if they are affected by internal practices and procedures or personnel. If they are personnel-related issues, the appropriate Personnel Performance Summary should be referenced.

Click here to view the Sample Divisional Summary Report for purchase

Click here to view the Sample Divisional Summary Report for service

In the actual monthly dealer report package, the Divisional Summary for PDS immediately follows the Executive Summary. It is preceded by a blue divider page that seperates all other purchase reports. The SSS Divisional Summary is the first in the series of Service Reports, right behind a blue divider page.

>   Personnel


There are three of these types of reports, one for purchase and two for service. Each targets key customer contact employees in the dealership:

               *      Sales Consultants
                 *      Service Consultants/Advisors
                 *      Service Technicians

On each report, summary scores are created for:

-    All questions over which these employees have control or
-    Every employee with returned surveys for the 3-month and
     12-month period.
-    Each division associated with the employee and all divisions
      combined.  (Note: GM of Canada multi-vehicle line
      locations are grouped as one division.)


Once an issue is determined to be employee-related, a Personnel Performance Summary can offer substantial detail to help pinpoint the cause and identify trends over time.

Critical to the overall effectiveness of the Performance Summaries is the accuracy of dealers reporting a purchase or service event, along with the proper Social Security Number (U.S.) or Social Insurance Number (Canada) of the related employee. Dealers must actively maintain employee records. It is important to relate ID numbers to correct employee names when reporting employee personnel information to GM or its divisions for any purpose. Dealers are now able to keep GM updated with personnel information for both service and sales employees via the DealerProfile/Service Personnel table in WINS (the Warranty Information Network System).

Dealers should use employee summaries with caution. When the number of responses is low, scores may be unstable.


Things to look for on the Personnel Performance Summary:

*      Are the number of responses about the same for all employees?
*      Does the number of responses for an employee reflect that employee’s
        proportion of the business?

*      Are all personnel performing consistently with dealer scores?
*      Are the personnel performing consistently division to division?
*      Are differences across makes in employee scores also reflected in dealer scores?
*      Is the employee aware that these scores can be used to improve performance?

In the actual monthly dealer report package, the Sales Consultant Summary appears with the Purchase Report series, and the two Service Performance Summaries can be found in the Service section.

Click here to view the Sample Sales Consultant Performance Summary

Click here to view the Sample Service Consultant Performance Summary

Click here to view the Sample Service Technician Performance Summary


>   Response Detail
Separate Response Detail Summaries are created for purchase and service by division. Each report contains:

-    Individual customer response information for every survey
     question, including age and gender.

-    Customer name, phone number, event date, associated
      employee ID and VIN.

-    Responses grouped by consultant ID.

-    A listing of customer responses for surveys returned within
      30 days (those included in a dealer’s summary scores).

-    One-month averages for the surveys returned within the
      30-day cutoff period.  These scores are less reliable than
      the 3-month and 12-month averages, generally because of the
      low number of responses included.

-    A separate listing of responses for surveys received after
      the 30-day window allowed. These responses are not
      included in summary scores reported.

-    No personal, vehicle, or event-related information for
      customers who do not want to be identified. They are
      listed as "RESTRICTED" and appear last in a response

-    A legend at the top of the page that identifies the response
     codes used.

-    Shaded response columns for the key overall questions.
      The primary Overall Dealership response column is also
      boxed for easy reference (Q14 PDS; Q16 SSS).

-    An asterisk (*) next to a customer’s name if a fax of that
      survey has been sent to the dealership.

-    For service reports only, a number sign (#) indicates a policy
      only customer.  An ampersand (&) is displayed before
      customer names if they came in only because of a campaign.
      A second legend at the bottom of the page describes the
      codes used for reasons customers gave for their service
      concerns not being corrected.

Things to look for on the Response Detail Summary:

*      Are all customers reporting about the same levels of satisfaction on
        individual questions?

*      Are individual customer satisfaction levels consistent across questions?
*      If a customer is not satisfied with an area, can a cause be identified?
*      Can a customer’s problem be resolved?
*      Has the dealership followed-up on all critical faxed surveys received?

Click here to view the Sample Response Detail Summary for sales.

Click here to view the Sample Response Detail Summary for service

Click here to go back to Table of Contents


CSI Data Calculation/Interpretation

Types of CSI Survey Questions/Responses/Scores

>   "Yes/No" and
     Scaled Questions
In order to understand what the numbers mean on a CSI Report, it is necessary to go back to the survey questions. There are basically two types of questions used on the surveys:

          1.    Questions that can be answered "yes" or "no."

          2.    Questions that provide a scale indicating various
                 levels of satisfaction or willingness to recommend.

  (3899 bytes)

All overall questions utilize one of the two rating scales. Customer input helped determine whether individual questions should be answered with a "yes" or "no" or with a scale. Most of the survey questions utilize the satisfaction scale, which allows customers to express degrees of satisfaction.

>   Calculating a

Survey questions that are answered "yes" or "no" are reported in CSI as "% Yes."

The calculation is as follows:

        Total "Yes"        





Total ("Yes" + "No")


(25 + 2)

Unanswered questions and "Does Not Apply" responses are not included in the calculations. When "Don’t Know" is one of the response categories, it is generally included in the "% Yes" calculation because it is considered to be relevant to the Retail Standard.

For these questions, the "% Yes" is calculated:


                     Total "Yes"                    


Total ("Yes" + "No" + "Don't Know")



>   Calculating
     an Index
There are three steps involved in calculating an average or index for a scaled question.

          1.    First, a numeric value is assigned to each level of the scale.



Satisfaction Levels
4 = Completely Satisfied
3 = Very Satisfied
2 = Satisfied
1 = Somewhat Satisfied
0 = Not At All Satisfied




Recommendation Levels
4 = Definitely Would
3 = Probably Would
2 = Might/Might Not
1 = Probably Not
0 = Definitely Not
These numeric values are just like the ones used by schools in the U.S., and some in Canada, to derive grade point averages. Therefore, a 4.00 is the highest possible score.

The levels shown above are the product of extensive research. Research with customers helped determine which words and phrases most accurately described their opinions. Further, customers helped determine the value that should be assigned to each level.

          2.   The assigned values are then multiplied by the number of
                 responses for that level.


 Satisfaction Levels





4Completely Satisfied X 93 = 372
3Very Satisfied X 45 = 135
2Satisfied X 9 = 18
1Somewhat Satisfied X 9 = 9
0Not At All Satisfied X   8  =   0  



"Does Not Apply" and "Don’t Know" responses are always excluded from scale calculations.

The score is then calculated by dividing the total aggregate score
(from step 2) by the total number of responses to that question.

   Aggregate Score  





Total Responses


The result is the score shown in the reports. The calculation procedure is the same for a 3-month or 12-month period.

The score is a numeric expression of the level of satisfaction conveyed by customers responding to the survey question. The scores are not weighted, so each returned survey is treated equally.


>   Calculating
     "% Top Box"
Another score that appears on CSI reports is "% Top Box." While this percentage could apply to any scaled question on the surveys, it is reported in CSI for the two primary Overall Dealership Satisfaction questions (PDS Q14 and SSS Q16).

"% Top Box" scores represent the percentage of customers who responded "Completely Satisfied" to a scaled question.

Using the example provided in Step 2 above:

"Completely Satisfied" Responses






% Top Box

Total Responses

The calculation procedure is the same for 3-month and 12-month periods.


  Interpreting and Understanding CSI Data

Once the calculation is understood, it is easier to evaluate customer satisfaction reports.

>  Interpreting
In CSI reports, the values for the "yes/no" questions are always shown as the percent of respondents answering "yes." All of the "yes/no" questions are phrased so that a "yes" response indicates the Retail Standard is being met.


>  Interpreting
     Index Scores

To find out what the score means, it is necessary to look at the values assigned to the levels of satisfaction.



Satisfaction Level
4 = Completely Satisfied
3 = Very Satisfied
2 = Satisfied
1 = Somewhat Satisfied
0 = Not At All Satisfied
The CSI scores for scaled questions represent the average level of customer satisfaction during a specific period.  It is important to remember that the same average level of satisfaction can be achieved in different ways.     

A simple example illustrates this distinction. Consider two hypothetical dealerships with the following responses:




for Dealer A

for Dealer B

Completely Satisfied 25 45
Very Satisfied 30 0
Satisfied 0 5
Somewhat Satisfied 0 0
Not At All Satisfied 0 5
Total Responses 55 55
Average CSI



Both dealers have the same number of total responses and the same average CSI score. However, they have achieved this average in very different ways. All of Dealer A’s customers are either "Completely" or "Very Satisfied." Most of Dealer B’s customers are "Completely Satisfied," but a few are just "Satisfied" and some are "Not At All Satisfied."

While the scores are the same, reactions to this data should be different. Dealer A needs to understand what is keeping the majority of his customers (the 30 who are "Very Satisfied") from checking "Completely Satisfied." Dealer B needs to understand what caused the lower ratings by looking further into the Response Detail Summary and following up with these customers.

CSI scores should never be examined in isolation, but always compared to some other reference---last month's scores, last year's scores, other make scores, or the market area/region averages.


>  Importance of
     % Top Box

Top Box scores reflect the percentage of customers who responded "Completely Satisfied" to a given question. This score is important because there is a proven correlation between the level of customer satisfaction with a product or service and owner repurchase intentions (loyalty). Therefore, "Completely Satisfied" customers (or % Top Box) on PDS Q14 and SSS Q16 are the best indicators of dealership loyalty.

Checkboxes3.gif (1824 bytes)

The following graphs show that the majority (70%) of customers are "Completely Satisfied" with their Overall Purchase and Delivery experience, and of those nearly all (98%) would "Definitely" recommend the dealership. For Overall Service, 57% are "Completely Satisfied," and 97% of them would "Definitely" recommend the dealership. "Definite" recommendations decline significantly (55% PDS; 46% SSS) among "Very Satisfied" customers, and very little loyalty is displayed by those responding in the lower three satisfaction categories.


PurchaseGraph1.gif (4782 bytes)


ServiceGraph1.gif (4558 bytes)

   Source:  CSI October 1998 Events for Total General Motors


>   Understanding
      All CSI
The CSI scale was developed from extensive research with consumers and input from dealers and other sources. While "% Top Box" is the best indicator of customer loyalty, it is important to understand how each response category on the scale relates to loyalty.

Completely Satisfied (4)

A Completely Satisfied customer is the ultimate goal of customer satisfaction. These customers have had their best expectations met or exceeded. Research suggests that almost all Completely Satisfied customers (98% PDS; 96% SSS) will "Definitely" recommend their dealer.

Very Satisfied (3)

Very Satisfied is still a good rating. However, in today’s competitive automotive environment, this is often not enough to generate customer enthusiasm and loyalty. Only about half (59% PDS; 44% SSS) of Very Satisfied customers will "Definitely" recommend their dealer. Still positive, but significantly below the customers responding "Completely Satisfied."

Satisfied (2)

While the Satisfied customer is not unhappy, only about one in ten (15% PDS; 10% SSS) would "Definitely" recommend their dealer.

Somewhat Satisfied (1)

Somewhat Satisfied is sometimes viewed as an acceptable level of customer satisfaction. However, research has consistently proven this to be little more than a polite way of expressing dissatisfaction. Very few (2% PDS; 1% SSS) of the Somewhat Satisfied customers would "Definitely" recommend their dealer. More important, however, is that about one out of three would "Probably Not" recommend the dealership.

Not At All Satisfied (0)

The Not At All Satisfied customers should not be counted on for any favorable word-of-mouth. Only 1% of our Not At All Satisfied customers would recommend their dealer, and about half said they would "Probably Not" or "Definitely Not" recommend.

Research to date clearly supports the validity of the current CSI scale as a measure of customer satisfaction, and demonstrates the value of striving to have all customers enthusiastic about every vehicle buying and ownership experience.


>   Why Both Index
      and % Top Box
Both Index and Top Box scores are important because each serves a specific purpose. In combination, you have a more complete picture of overall dealership performance. An Index reflects the average level of satisfaction for all customers—the full distribution of answers, not just Completely Satisfied responses. It takes into account incremental improvements if changes occur in levels less than Top Box, and is beneficial for diagnostics, consultation, and other types of performance evaluation. However, in a highly competitive industry where customers have so many "choices," the differences between the loyalty of those Completely Satisfied and those merely satisfied are tremendous. Therefore, the addition of % Top Box provides another useful tool to help monitor progress as dealers strive to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Number of Surveys, Response Rates, and CSI Reliability

CSI reports also contain three other important numbers, the . . .

                       *   number of customers surveyed
                       *   number of customers responding
                       *   response rate

All three numbers are reported on the Point Summaries, while only response rates appear on the Divisional Summaries. Understanding response rates is critical to report interpretation and utilization.

Number of


The number of customers surveyed represents the total number of surveys mailed for the reporting period. If the number of customers surveyed does not agree with a dealer’s internal records, it may indicate a problem in delivery reporting/warranty submissions that should be corrected.


>   Number of

The number of customers responding is the number of completed surveys returned within 30 days of mail-out. A "completed survey" is defined as any survey with at least one valid response. Not included in this figure are surveys . . .

-  returned after 30 days
-  checked "I no longer own/lease the vehicle"
-  returned by the Post Office as "undeliverable"


>   Response Rate The response rate is the number of completed surveys returned, divided by the number of surveys mailed. Both the actual number of returned surveys and the response rate are important to understanding the meaning of CSI reports.


>   Reliability
Generally speaking, the greater the number of surveys that make up a CSI score, the greater the reliability. Therefore, an average based on 50 responses will be more reliable than one based on 10 responses.

The higher the response rate, the greater the confidence or reliability of the score. A response rate of 50% or better is preferable.

The 12-month average is always the most stable indicator of performance because it has the largest number of responses.  Three-month averages provide a more immediate picture of what is happening in the dealership and may be more variable.

Focus on trends over time. One-month and three-month scores are subject to greater fluctuations than the 12-month score because they are derived from smaller numbers of responses. Therefore, one decline should be treated with caution if the trend over time has been positive. However, several consecutive declines should be investigated.

Use the Personnel Performance and Response Detail Summaries with caution. The information should be used as directional indicators of satisfaction, not absolute measures.

Like all scores, the response rate should be evaluated in reference to other information.

-   Is it higher or lower than the market area average?

-   How does it compare to last month? last year?


An optional analysis package a dealer may want to consider is called CSI DIAGNOSTICS. It targets the areas that have the greatest impact on a dealership’s overall customer satisfaction and provides clear, concise recommendations on how to improve. It should be used in conjunction with the monthly CSI reports that monitor a dealership’s overall performance.

A minimum number of completed surveys is required to conduct a franchise analysis. To qualify, a dealer must have at least 30 Purchase and Delivery Satisfaction surveys and 40 Service Satisfaction Surveys returned during the last 12 months for each division requested. Therefore, some dealers may only qualify for certain divisions at the location point, or perhaps not at all.

There are four components to CSI DIAGNOSTICS:

Quarterly, dealers receive three components - the Continuous improvement Grid, Trend Graphs, and Causes and Solutions.  Trend Graphs also are provided for the two interim months of the quarter.  Included with the graphs is the Demographic component.
>   Continuous
The Continuous Improvement Grid is a quadrant map that diagrams a dealer’s performance compared to similar dealers in relation to what impacts overall customer satisfaction. It identifies and prioritizes a dealer’s key areas of improvement opportunity. The top two become the primary focus for the causes and solutions component. The grids are produced quarterly, alternating between Purchase/Delivery and Service.


>   Trend Graphs
Trend Graphs are provided monthly for each of the key areas of improvement opportunity identified on the most recent quarterly Purchase/Delivery and Service Satisfaction Continuous Improvement Grids. The graphs help monitor a dealer’s performance over time relative to the market area and division as solutions are implemented to fine-tune operations.


>   Causes and
The Causes and Solutions Guides provide background information that indicates the customer expectation(s), GM Retail Standard(s), and benefits associated with the primary area(s) of opportunity identified on the Continuous Improvement Grid each quarter. In addition, it suggests possible causes for the primary area needing improvement and offers specific solutions to better the dealer’s sales/service operations.
>   Demographic
Charts and data tables for age and gender are provided during the interim two months of the quarter when only Trend Graphs are produced.  One month focuses on customers who purchased new vehicles.  The second month profiles the dealer's service customers.

Dealers using CSI DIAGNOSTICS are able to make more informed decisions about effectively allocating their most valuable resources–people, time, and money–by focusing on areas that provide the greatest payback in higher customer satisfaction. Improved customer satisfaction leads to increased loyalty.

For additional details about CSI DIAGNOSTICS, contact your local market area representative.

Click here to view a sample Diagnostics Continuous Improvement Grid.

Click here to view sample Diagnostics Trend Graphs.

Click here to view a sample Diagnostics Causes and Solutions.

Click here to go back to Table of Contents




A listing of answers to some commonly asked questions about the CSI survey process.




Q     What is CSI?


A    CSI stands for Customer Satisfaction Information.  It is a survey process that evaluates dealer performance to the GM Retail Standards. 



Q   Will my CSI scores be used as qualifiers in any recognition activities?


A    Yes.  Details as to how CSI scores are used are outlined in the rules for each program.



Q   Will a change in ownership of a dealership effect CSI information?


A    Yes.  CSI information will not be transferred to the new dealer.



Q   If an employee changes dealerships, will his or her data be transferred?


A    No.  The employee will “start fresh” at the new dealership.  However, his or her data will continue to be reported as a part of the previous dealership’s history.







Q   What causes a CSI survey to be mailed?


A    A retail delivery record triggers a Purchase and Delivery Survey (PDS).   Claims submitted for retail warranty and select campaigns may trigger a Service Satisfaction Survey (SSS).  However, service customers are mailed no more than one Service Survey in a 90-day period (or three per year) and none are sent during the first 60 days of vehicle ownership.


Q   Are lease customers surveyed?


A    Retail lease customers are eligible to be surveyed.  However, a person’s name and address must be indicated on the record.  Typically, non-GMAC lease customer names are not available.



Q   Are fleet and commercial customers surveyed?


A    No.  Neither is included in the CSI survey process.


Q   Are PEP vehicles included in the survey process?


A    PEP vehicles are not included in the purchase process, but they are eligible for the service survey.


Q   Are GM employees (GMS customers) surveyed?


A    Yes.  They are eligible for both the purchase and service CSI surveys.


Q   Are companies and businesses included in the survey process?


A    No.  Only retail sales and warranty service customers are included, and the record must indicate a person’s name, not a company name.


Q   Will vehicles with the GM 100,000-Mile/Five-Year Powertrain Warranty be surveyed?


A    No.  This additional coverage has not changed survey eligibility.


Q   Are cross-line warranty customers surveyed?


A    Yes.  However, they are scored separately and included in the dealership’s SSS Point Total scores.  They are not included in any divisional service scores.


Q   Are Medium-Duty trucks included in the survey process?


A    No.  Only light-duty trucks are included.


Q   How are buyback vehicles handled?


A    Divisional buybacks are provided to the research supplier monthly.  These records are then deleted from all data files and reports, as long as they have been provided prior to the cutoff for report generation.


Q   Why does a customer not receive a survey?


A    Individual VIN investigations are not able to be completed.  A survey is mailed to eligible VINs.   Here is a list of reasons why a customer may not receive a survey due to non- eligibility…

·         address reported with blank fields, invalid address or postal code

·         triplicate address reported in the same week

·         customer requests do not market through any GMCL or GMAC feedback mechanisms

·         undeliverable through postal system

·         customer is listed in database as a company or government

·         kilometres reported exceed 1600

·         sale reported as fleet

·         sale reported 2-3 weeks after delivery date

·         no lessee is reported

·         consumer language is not reported




Q   How quickly will a customer be mailed a survey after he or she has purchased a new vehicle or had a vehicle serviced?


A    To a great extent, the promptness with which a customer receives a survey depends on how quickly the dealer reports the event.  Surveys are mailed about three to four weeks after an event is reported.  The time lapse provides dealers an opportunity to follow-up with customers within a week of the event, and it allows time for all information needed to support the CSI process to flow through the GM systems.


Q   Can customers complete CSI surveys online?


A    Yes.  An online survey “option” for CSI was implemented the week of March 26, 2007.  Customers who receive a purchase or service survey by mail who prefer to complete it online may do so by going to the website indicated in the introductory paragraph of the hardcopy/paper survey received and using the ID and password specified. 


Q   Can customers mail their CSI surveys by FedEx or express mail?


A    No. To help ensure the integrity of the CSI reporting process, all express and specialty mailings received are reviewed.  Possible interference is documented and addressed on a case-by-case basis with the Region and the Dealer.   

  Due to a) the extensive time involved in these investigations, b) our commitment to

  the dealers regarding processing timelines, and c) the possibility of interference;

  CSI Reporting does not include express or specialty mailings of any type

  (e.g., FedEx, Certified, Overnight, etc.)



Q   What does GM consider “interference” in the CSI survey process?  


A    As stated in the GM Service Policies and Procedures Manual:


        CSI surveys are mailed to retail owners based on new vehicle delivery reporting or warranty claim submissions.  Customers are to complete the surveys independent of dealer/dealership personnel participation.  Dealers/retailers are not to:

¾      Bias or attempt to influence customer responses to the CSI surveys.

¾      Assist customers in completing or mailing surveys.

¾      Discourage customers from responding to the surveys.

¾      Invite customers to return the CSI surveys to the dealership or any location other than the pre-addressed location on the return envelope.

¾      Offer or provide free gifts or services to customers as direct incentives for completing surveys.

¾      An important element of the CSI process is the timely return of all surveys with customer comments.  Dealers are encouraged to follow-up and resolve customer concerns.


Q   If a survey is received by someone who no longer owns the vehicle, will the data be reported?


A    No.  The survey will not be counted if the customer checks the box on the survey indicating that the vehicle is no longer owned.


Q   What if a question in the survey is not answered?


A    That question is not counted or included in the data.  All other questions answered on the survey are reported. 



Q   Can a customer get a replacement paper survey or a lost online user ID and password?


A    No.  If a customer claims that he/she did not receive a CSI paper survey or lost their online ID and password, they cannot be replaced.





Q   How soon must customers return surveys to be included in CSI scores?


A    Questionnaires returned within 30 days of mailing are included in monthly scores.  

(Submission of online returns is by 11:59:59 p.m. Central Time on the “cut-off day” posted on DealerPulse (which is 12:59:59 a.m. Eastern Time, the following day).


        Since customer perceptions fade over time, the 30-day cutoff provides more current and consistent recall of the customer’s retail experience.  Responses received 31 or more days after mailing are provided (and posted on DealerPulse), but are not included in any summary score calculations.


Q   Which survey counts if both the paper survey and online surveys are returned by a customer for a sales or service event?


A    If both a paper survey and an online survey are returned, only the first one received will be processed for CSI.  If both are received on the same day, only the paper survey will be processed.


Q   Why do we strive for “completely” satisfied and why do we only consider “top box”?

A    Top box is the best indicator of customer loyalty.   There is a proven correlation between the levels of customer satisfaction with a given product or service and customer repurchase intentions.  Based on current GM dealership CSI scores . . .

-  8 out of 10 customers are completely satisfied with their purchase experience

-  7 out of 10 customers are completely satisfied with their service experience        


Q   Why are 3- and 12-month averages on the reports and not an immediate one-month average?


A    Averages tend to fluctuate when there are few customers represented in the scores or response rates are low.  Focusing on the 3- and 12-month data helps ensure that more reliable scores are used.


Q   How can a dealer modify current employee names or identification numbers?


A    There are two ways to modify employee information.  Most Dealers can add or modify employee information through GM Training or they may report both Service and Sales employees via the Dealer Profile/Service personnel table in WINS (Warranty Information Network System).  Updates should be made in a timely manner and reviewed on a regular basis to ensure that dealership personnel information is accurate.


Q   What happens when there are multiple technicians on the same repair order?


A    The data will be included in the dealer’s score, but not assigned to a specific technician.


Q   Why does the word “RESTRICTED” appear in place of some customer’s names?


A    These customers responded “No” to the question “May we include your name when forwarding this information to the dealer?”  (Q20 on PDS, and Q22 on SSS).   It is a standard research practice to allow respondents to remain anonymous and their requests must be honored.  For this same reason, dealer requests not to be identified are honored on industry-related research surveys.

Click here to go back to Table of Contents


Appendix A

Customer Comment Codes/Categories




SAFETY—alleged/customer perception of product problems involving safety/fear of harm such as:  brakes; seat belt didn’t work; airbags didn’t work; steering locked up; vehicle stalled; fuel smell; fire; windshield wipers didn’t work when raining. Customer doesn’t have to specifically mention safety—it can be implied; any mention of an accident; any mention of a recall, unless positive comment, regarding the recall.



LEMON LAW/BUYBACK REQUESTS—customer needs to mention lemon law, state law, or law suit; buyback requests; requests final repair attempt; any documents from an attorney or consumer group.



REQUESTS FOR ASSISTANCE—customer asks to be contacted by someone; customer mentions they cannot get in contact with the Division Customer Assistance Center (CAC); mention of a CAC case number; all surveys received by certified mail; letters of extreme need or urgency.



PRODUCT PROBLEMS—any mention of a specific problem with their vehicle (i.e., squeaks, rattles, paint peeling, etc.).



DEALER PROBLEMS TO CUSTOMER ASSISTANCE CENTERS (CACs)—fraud; customer refuses to work with dealer again; repeat problems that the dealer is not resolving; attached repair orders or reimbursement requests; attached original documents such as titles, payments; accident/damage/theft claims that occurred at the dealership; customer claims they did not have service; gas tank not filled by dealership at delivery.



GENERAL CONCERNS REQUIRING FOLLOW-UP—incidentals (owner is requesting reimbursement for alternate transportation, hotels, etc.); incentives; requests for brochures, divisional materials, or keys.



DEALER-RELATED PROBLEMS/CONCERNS—salesman was rude; poor delivery condition; unclean; late delivery; dishonesty issue; bad service advisor; problems with price or trade-in price.



PRODUCT SUGGESTIONS—specific design issues; more cup holders; move ashtray; placement of light switch, etc.



GENERAL COMMENTS—NO FOLLOW-UP—favorable comments; general comments; customer mentions a problem that has already been resolved by the dealer.












MULTIPLE COMMENT CATEGORIES—customer comments apply to more than one category.


No Code*

DISSATISFIED CUSTOMERS—customer who answers "Not At All Satisfied" to any of the following questions: PDS questions 10, 13, 14, 15, or 16; SSS questions 10, 13, 16, 17, or 18.

* "Dissatisfied Customer" is printed at the top of the survey.


Click here to go back to Table of Contents



Appendix B

Routing of Surveys with Comments
and Dissatisfied Customers Surveys




01  Safety


Transmit to CAC

02  Lemon Law/Buyback Requests

Fax Transmit to CAC

03  Requests for Assistance

Fax Transmit to CAC

04  Product Problems

Mail Transmit to CAC

05  Dealer Problems to CACs

Fax Transmit to CAC

06  General Concerns--Follow-up

Mail Transmit to CAC

07  Dealer-Related problems

Mail Not sent

08  Product Suggestions

Not sent Not sent

09  General Comments

Mail Not sent

10  Requests Not To Be Contacted

Mail Not sent

11  No Longer Own Vehicle

Not sent Not sent

12  No to Q20 (PDS) or Q22 (SSS)
      (Confidentiality questions)

Not sent Code into appropriate categories--CAC routing

      Dissatisfied Customers

Mail Not sent*--Transmit to CAC

      Questionnaires with

Not sent Follow routing for coded surveys.  No codes--Transmit to CAC



Unless customer wants to remain anonymous to the dealer


Click here to go back to Table of Contents

Back to the Help Menu