The Relentless Pursuit of Customer Satisfaction - 2014 Kia Forte EX Long-Term Road Test

2014 Kia Forte EX Long-Term Road Test

2014 Kia Forte: The Relentless Pursuit of Customer Satisfaction

November 22, 2013

2014 Kia Forte

The service advisor, of course, prepped me for what would come next. You might get a survey, he said, and we want to make sure you were 100 percent satisfied with the service. I nodded, smiled. I might have said that everything was great, and it was.

The next morning, I got an email from the dealership's CSI administrator. These initials, of course, do not stand for "crime scene investigation," but for "customer satisfaction index."

"If we have not achieved EXCELLENCE in your service experience, we have failed," the note said. The tone was one of slight panic. (I should add that the dealership didn't know that this was an Edmunds car. I used my own contact info.)

Later in the day, I got the dealership's invitation to join its email service-reminder list, with a promise of lots of perks. Still later, I got a phone call from the service department, just checking in to make sure the service experience was all it could have been. I assured the caller it was fine.

I know what's going on. If I happen to get a Kia customer service index survey in the mail and I decide to score it with anything less than "more ecstatically happy than I've ever been in my entire life," the dealership service department gets dinged. It's CSI inflation.

Why isn't "good" good enough? I got good service, and that's all I expected. For a 7,500-mile service visit to send me reeling, it would have to be so laden with goodies that the dealership couldn't afford to stay in business. What if I wanted lattes, pedicures, iPad charging stations and lots of other foolishness in exchange for my business? That kind of service might be fine for the swanky Mercedes dealership in Newport Beach, but nutty for a Kia shop in Cerritos.

Chill out, OEMs. Give your dealerships a break. Good is great.

Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor @ 8,442 miles

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