There are so many customer surveys being released these days that it’s easy to become indifferent to them. What do researchers really know about customer satisfaction? After all, they’re not face-to-face with customers, they’re not backed up in the shop and they’re not battling for every last sale. That’s all true. It’s also true that researchers — and your customers — don’t care. It’s about the experience, not the excuses.

A friend shared a story recently about taking a vehicle in for repair to a large chain. The location was convenient and the brand well-known. When she went in to the store, the service technician basically just took the keys and said the diagnostics charge was $99. His “We’ll call when it’s ready” statement was her signal to leave. They didn’t call, so she made a follow-up call only to learn that they couldn’t fix the problem.

Her next stop was to a less convenient independent shop. She was greeted warmly by a technician who introduced himself and then accompanied her to the car to hear what she was hearing. A connection was made with the customer and, ultimately, the car was repaired. “The repairs were not cheap, but I’m a little happier to spend money at a place that actually seemed interested,” she says.

On any given day, this scenario could be reversed. And, what if on that day, a secret survey was being done on your dealership? How would you rank — especially if that was the day you were frustrated, out of time, dealing with employee issues or any of the dozens of other challenges you face every day.

Take the lead and find ways to measure customer satisfaction to eliminate more and more of those bad days and bad experiences. For instance, the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting company, ranks companies in three main areas:

1. Success: Was the consumer successful in completing the task they initially intended to achieve?

2. EffortHow easy was it to interact with the company?

3. Emotion: How did the consumer feel about this interaction?

The company recently released its fifth annual customer experience survey and ranked the companies that Americans hate dealing with and love dealing with. It’s interesting reading, so you may want to check it out.

The company says, “Consumer expectations are rising at a pace that is faster than the speed at which companies are improving their customer experience.”

You can’t know what your customers are expecting — or experiencing — at your dealership if you don’t ask. These three areas are straightforward enough and don’t require fancy surveying tools. They do require a willingness to ask; a willingness to be open to the answers, even if they are uncomfortable to hear; and a willingness to change the experience, if necessary. Today seems like is a good day to start the process.