The CSI Award

Published in the June 2013 Issue June 2013

The Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) award is not just an award that can be won in the boating industry; it is an honor earned by companies that put the consumer first and ensure that when a boat owner buys his boat, he is more than just a customer: He becomes part of the boating family. The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) has tasked the boating industry to not simply be a reliable and courteous resource for boat owners, but to create an environment that helps owners and buyers to feel confident when buying and know that their best interest becomes the boating industry’s top priority. It isn’t the industry’s role to make and sell boats, it’s to create a lasting bond between the dealer and the consumer and strive to improve every consumer’s experience, whether it be providing key information on a boat, or finalizing a sale.


The CSI Award

When a boat owner finds his boat and trailers his new pontoon or deck boat off of the showroom floor or out of the lot, the transaction isn’t simply over. The dealer sends a short survey 30 days after purchase to ask the owner questions about overall satisfaction with the boat, the engine and most importantly, the sales process. Interaction between the dealer and the customer is the most important aspect of a sale. Upon the return of the survey, if the dealership or manufacturer has not received a 90 percent positive return, or the customer has had any discrepancies with any point of the sale, the manufacturer and dealership work tirelessly to rectify the discrepancy and ensure that the customer receives the best experience possible.

After the owner has had his boat for one season (around 270-300 days after purchase), another more comprehensive survey is sent to the owner to again ask about the overall satisfaction with the boat, its engine, and this time, the overall satisfaction of the dealer’s service to the consumer. Each in-depth question is specifically designed to ask pivotal questions regarding whether or not the customer’s needs were met with a fast, dedicated and appropriate response from the dealer, and if the boat and engine have met all of the owner’s criteria and standards. Although this award highlights the hard work and dedication of the dealership and manufacturer, it isn’t designed for bragging rights or competition. It encourages the industry to better serve its consumers and create an environment conducive to customer comfort while putting a premium on owner satisfaction.

Why is this so Important?

The answer to this question may go without saying. Customers deserve to be treated with respext and given the best product possible. Just as important, the manufacturers in the boating industry work hard to create the best product available and cannot do so without the insight and honest responses of the the customer. More than that, the boating industry doesn't simply want to be the best within the category of boating, they want to be the best when compared to other industries as well. Steve Pizzolato, Founder and CEO of Avala Marketing Group, and his team work together with Sea Ray Boats, Inc. and elaborated on the finer details of what the CSI award means.

“The CSI award program is so important not only to retain customers, but to improve the product. Customers take their expectations from one industry to another and we can’t just improve our industry for the industry’s sake,” Pizzolato continued. “We strive to be the best in the premium brand goods industry. If a person owns a highend car, he looks at a boat the same way he looks at his car. He simply wants the best and the award is aimed at encouraging boat manufacturers to create just that.”

He also described the importance of retaining current customer/dealer relationships and consolidating new relationships with new consumers within the industry.

“In the survey, we ask consumers how likely they would be to recommend the product to a friend or relative. We want a product that not only the dealerships can certify as the best, but the customer can attest to as well,” said Pizzolato.


Earned, Not Won

So what is the secret to earning such a prestigious award as the CSI? Some of the industries and dealers that continuously have their mettle tested and have come out on top have shared their philosophy and show what it takes to be the best in customer service. Roger Bills, director of marketing at G3 Boats, gave insight into how one company does it right.

“Customer satisfaction is one of our core values at G3. We make quick response to our boat owners’ questions a top priority every day,” Bills said. “When a question or comment is submitted, they are reviewed by key management personnel and each response to the customer is checked to ensure that the best information is given in a quick and timely fashion.”

Timely response and accurate, relevant information is incredibly important to promoting great customer satisfaction, but not the only avenue available. Some take a little more family-oriented approach. Michael Menne, operations director at Take It To Eleven, Inc., takes care of customer satisfaction for Premier Marine, and had shed a different light on what’s necessary for giving customers the best experience possible.

“Premier has received the CSI award for many years. We have strived to always be mindful of our customers’ needs, and as Premier is a family business, we treat our customers as part of that family,” Menne said. “We take our customers’ response very personally and because the dynamic for customers’ needs and wants changes, we continue to focus on how we can change to best suit those needs.”

Every customer goes into a purchase with the expectation of being treated fairly. Feeling like they are a part of a family with a boat manufacturer and dealership helps boat owners feel less like dollar signs and more like respected individuals. This is a key step on ensuring optimal customer service. Another great way to ensure the best in customer/dealer relations comes by a constant observation in house. Continuously gathering data, proactive thinking and keeping the customer in mind first is a tremendously vital component in customer satisfaction. Steve Tadd, marketing director at Nautic Global Group, works with Hurricane, a leading manufacturer in deck boats, and explained the company’s philosophy on customer service and satisfaction.

“To successfully improve customer satisfaction, a company has to have the desire to continuously improve on the customer’s behalf. This customer satisfaction ‘culture’ starts at the top and spreads to everyone within the company.”

Nautic Global Group has put a premium on proactive thinking and streaming feedback from customers, which has been a successful approach to ensuring the best experience possible for the consumer. No matter what avenue is taken, putting the customer above all else is the key to a successful relationship between the dealer and customer, and these award recipients live by that fact.


Great Business

With each group, a unique and innovative approach is taken to giving the customers not just the best in boating, but the best experience with a purchase that they can give. This sort of approach not only helps the company bring in lifelong relationships with the boat owners, but gives the owner the peace of mind that whatever boat he decides to make his own, he has someone to help make the process the best experience he has ever had.

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