A View from Here

Bill's Sisson's weekly Trade Only blog

Customer Service

Customer Service is one of the biggest and most important issues facing our industry today. And here is the problem with that statement. When did customer service stop being as important to our industry? The hot topic over the past few years has been how to improve and promote better customer service…but why haven’t we been doing this all along to begin with. 
Some manufacturers undoubtedly have maintained consistent, positive CSI numbers year after year and probably would have continued to do so without an industry standard put in place. These are the companies that recognize each customer should be treated as a potential customer, and each customer should be treated the way we all would like to be treated when shopping for a product. This is a topic that’s important to all of us, because one way or another, it affects all of us.   

Jill Shave
Sales Manager
Jupiter Marine International  


7 comments on “Customer Service

  1. Larry Gahr

    Jill, you are so right. i’ve been saying that for over 32 years. however the manufactures did not realise that until the past 10 years or so. Remember when they only wanted to pay about 25% of our retail labor rates for warentee work, did the give a **** about the costomer? Service is all this country has to offer.Look what Lexus and Toyoto has done to the american car industry. The have set the example for all of us. There are a few Manufactures that are NOW doing a great job. However there is still a long way to go.

  2. peter fisher

    jill—as an old sea craft dealer —nice to here from you and your insite——————–old school says treat the customer like you would like to be treated———-service is never simple or quick——make the customer first ———-think !!!!!!!!1

  3. Bob

    Jill, you are half to three quarters RIGHT. The engine manufacturers have, for quite a while, been stressing customer satisfaction. The other part is finding NEW boaters. Keep up the good fight.

  4. JIM

    The problem Jill; as all industry dealer and sales veterans will tell you is that we as dealers are still expected to be final assembly. We hear our Brunswick and Genmar leaders explain to us how to assist the customer in filling out their CSI surveys, but we never hear how our builders are going to remedy the situation and straighten out their QC departments to the result that surveys will come back positive without coaching by dealers.
    Manufacturing good CSI results is not the answer; fixing the product and build process is. Quit telling the dealers how to tend to customer service–we’ve known how to do that for many years; start fixing your QC approach and start paying your dealers retail for warranty work; sans all the fancy tooling and education requirements–and watch your CSI ratings soar.
    Instead of requiring us to attend CSI meetings with builders, boat as well as engine; the builders should come to forums given by dealers–then, and only then, what all dealers know should be a two way street will truly run both ways!

  5. Blaine

    One company said the “product is king” well that is half right. The customer is king. It is the customer who comes thru your door spending his hard earned income on boating that allows us (dealers) to do what we do. Are there some companys who do it right? Yes, look at a little bass boat company in the hills of Arkansas. Bass Cat boats. For a little company to win a J.D.Power award 2 years running, beating out some “big” boys saids volumes about customer service. You would think that the big companys would see this and address this problem. But more offten than not all they care about is the market share numbers. not the customer. Some day when people who used to buy boats are playing golf, maybe then the big boat companys will wake up and figure out that they can’t just cram product that has problems down on the dealer who buy their product.

  6. Jim Pinto

    CSI…isnt that a TV show? Oh, you mean the survey that MerCruiser sends out to all customers that buy a BRUNSWICK boat or a MerCruiser/Mercury Engine? Yes, for the last 5 years since becoming a MerCruiser dealer, I could not figure out why I was only getting 3-4 return survey cards for CSI ratings. Here is another shocker for all you Brunswick geniuses…Who is the one that came up with that idea? In case all you reading this don’t know about the CSI from Brunswick,what they do is only rate a CSI on a new MerCruiser Engine Package repower if the boat it went in is a BRUNSWICK made boat. So after 100+ repowers of all makes and model boats done at my shop, I get a 90 % CSI rating my 1st and 2nd year. I thought that was impressive. I was proud. I could feel good at night knowing all those customers were so happy. Then one day I get the report on line and read that in 2001/2002, the 50+ new MerCruiser engine packages we installed only 10 customers were sent survey cards. What could this mean? I called my Merc CSI rep and was told in an email that “only Brunswick owner boats qualify.” Are you kidding me? God, how many times does all this service crap need to be discussed? You and I and every dealer/service owner knows the truth about this. Forget about talking about warranty reinbursment…Yes, our labor rate was $ 85 hour, and we got $ 60 hour for doing work on not just our work but any other MerCruiser powered boat. Maybe I should have only taken “Brunswick” boats in for service. And maybe I would have been paid full labor…NOT! This entire process is and always will be a joke. Again, the poor ( how can I say that when they spend 20-100K buying the boats we work on, or repower) consumer takes it in the rear along with us. It is bad for THE BOATING INDUSTRY! Mr Buckley the former CEO of Brunswick, whom I had the pleasure of not meeting or not talking to on the phone after 20 calls and 50 emails to his office and personal secretary, was a shinning example of what is all wrong about our Industry THEY do not care. THEY will sell boats. WE will repair them. WE will take it up the $%#*. WE have committed to this industry. So have THEY. So who wins and who loses in the end? Mr. Buckley is doing just fine as CEO of another company. Mr. McCoy, do you really think anything will change? Call me BRUNSWICK, I would love to be on your board….NOT!

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