Article

The CSI Pyramid Part II: Retention

January 2008, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Mauricio Espinosa - Also by this author

In the previous issue of ADM, I introduced you to the CSI Pyramid and the methodology of building on Satisfaction. This month I continue the discussion of climbing the CSI Pyramid. 

You’ll recall, when we looked at the illustration of the pyramid, at the base you found Satisfaction (CSI), which is where most businesses concentrate their efforts and energy. Building on that foundation, next came the “Pleasant” tier of the pyramid. Pleasant is where most of your Hispanic customers will fall if you’re doing a decent job. Not necessarily a good job or a great job, just a decent job. Why?

The minority customer typically has zero expectation of anything great happening, based on their previous experiences and the experiences of family and friends.

If you’re doing a decent job your business will have cultural training across the board. When you understand culture and language sensitivities and apply that in the business relationship, the minority customer not only recognizes it, he or she feels it. Now the experience the customer has moves beyond being satisfied because he or she is experiencing a pleasant moment. You have succeeded in reaching the “Pleasant” tier, and now that you’re there, you are able to reach higher.

The next level of the CSI Pyramid is the “Retention” tier. In addition to CSI, another popular three-letter acronym is CRM. What is CRM? There are some differing ideas on this, focusing on the ‘R’. For some it’s Customer Relationship Management; for others it’s Customer Retention Management. Either way, in my mind it simply means database management. CRM should include a set of tools intended to improve communication with the customer, designed to help keep ongoing communication with the customer and provide some ability to measure sales performance.

Does that equal customer retention?

Some typical measurements include:

  • How many times did you talk to the customer before closing the deal?
  • How many test drives were necessary to sell a vehicle?
  • How many UPs do you encounter before closing one deal?

In the fixed operation departments, some other typical measurements include:

  • What is the percentage of repair orders with appointment?
  • What is the percentage that you contacted to set up an appointment?
  • What percentage contacted you?
  • Of the total repair orders, how many were new customers?

Do these numbers equal customer retention?

At many businesses, we have found first-time customers usually give good-to-excellent ranking scores. However, as time and experiences continue, the results deteriorate. If you focus your efforts and energy on making sure new customers are satisfied, you’re forgetting the customers that have kept doing business with you—the very customers that are your greatest source of referrals.

Perhaps you’ve forgotten them because they are already there. I call this the Wife Syndrome (sorry sweetie). If you’re married, you may recognize these phrases: “You take me for granted,” and “You just don’t look at me the same.” Though we might not actually take our wives for granted, we fall short in telling and showing them that we appreciate them.



Don’t get used to your customer-base being there. Make sure you often tell and show them what their business means to you. Your wife will also appreciate the same attention.

As with a marriage, or any relationship, retention takes work. The methodology of the CSI Pyramid is not for half-efforts. If you decide to start building on satisfaction and climbing the pyramid, you cannot look back; you must go all the way.

I have had the opportunity to climb about 70 percent of all pyramids in Mexico, Tenochtitlan, Chichen-Itza, Tulum to mention a few. Once I have climbed the first 25-to-45 steps of one, the energy of the pyramid takes charge; I want to finish. Sitting on a tiny step or retreating back down is not an option.

So it is with our pyramid: master pleasant, achieve retention, and loyalty and fidelity will soon come to you. There is no short-cut to fidelity; you have to make the climb.

I’m going to close with an emphasis on one very special customer, the customer that makes it all possible; the customer who is there everyday, ready to take on challenges and make things happen.

This customer is right in front of you, ready for your leadership to light the way. That customer is none other than your own personnel;. Climb the pyramid for them, and they will climb the pyramid with you.
The key is, before CSI we must practice ESI, or Employee Satisfaction Index.

Next month I take you to the top where loyalty and fidelity rest.

Hasta entonces mis amigos.

Vol 4, Issue 11

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