By Thom Dammrich
Back in January, I read a Reuters article that really stuck with me, and I wanted to take this opportunity and share the gist of that article with you. The topic: Customer satisfaction. According to the article, satisfying increasingly demanding consumers will be the number-one priority of U.S. retailers in 2008, based on results of a survey released by International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) and the National Retail Federation. “Focusing on the customer always ranks high, but this is the first time in several years it is projected to be the most important area,” IBM was quoted as saying in the article.
This piece really hit home, mainly because the concept of improving Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) results has been a primary focus of the Grow Boating Initiative for the last three years. Since its inception, Grow Boating has stressed the importance of maintaining a satisfied and happy customer base to both boat manufacturers and dealerships. And I’m happy to report that, based on the most recent results complied via 2007 consumer CSI data, it’s clear this message is getting through—loud and clear!
Using data collected from more than 60,000 consumers, the National Marine Manufacturers Association’s (NMMA) Marine Industry Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) program announced in February that dealerships participating in the Marine Industry Dealership Certification program achieved significantly higher CSI scores for the second consecutive year than those attained by non-Certified dealerships. Additionally, consumers satisfaction with boats and engines purchased from Certified Dealerships also continued to outpace those of products delivered by their non-Certified counterparts.
According to 2007 industry data, on a 100-point scale, the “Overall Satisfaction with Dealer” ratings from consumers who purchased new boats from a Marine Industry Certified dealership averaged a score of 93.5 versus a rating of 88.7 from consumers who purchased new boats from non-certified dealerships carrying manufacturer brands that measure CSI. The 2007 results also confirm that boat and engine CSI scores were greater among dealerships earning Marine Industry Certified status versus non-Certified dealerships; Certified Dealerships earned boat and engine CSI scores of 94 and 94.6 respectively, compared to scores of 92.2 (boats) and 93.2 (engines) achieved by non-Certified dealerships.
These figures are based on dealership CSI scores recorded among 110 boat brands participating in the NMMA CSI program. The gap between CSI scores and CSI improvement is likely much larger among non-certified dealerships without access to CSI measurements. (Access to CSI measurement is therefore one of the requirements of Marine Industry Dealership Certification.)
The difference is obvious; same boat, same engine, better consumer experience. It’s clear that consumers who purchase boats from Marine Industry Certified Dealerships report higher overall satisfaction with both the product and the service they received when purchasing their boat.
There is no stronger endorsement for Marine Industry Dealership Certification than these most recent CSI results, and no reason why, upon hearing the facts, every dealerships shouldn’t want to pursue enrollment in the program. The 2007 CSI data demonstrates the true difference in experiences consumers receive from a Certified Dealership.
Bottom line: If you buy a certified product from a certified dealership, you’re going to receive a better overall consumer experience. Period. The numbers don’t lie.
To date, a total of 605 dealerships have enrolled in the Marine Industry Dealership Certification program, 360 of which have completed the process and earned the official “Marine Industry Certified” designation. For additional information about the Marine Industry Dealership Certification program or specific details regarding how to get enrolled, contact Dealer Certification program manager John Warnik at (312) 946-6500; jwarnik@DealerCertification.org.
Thom Dammrich is president of Grow Boating Inc. and the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA).