Experts define customer service experience as the overall experience customers get from interacting with a company’s sales and service teams during and after a purchase.

The experience is important because researchers find that customers are most likely to make repeat purchases with companies who provide excellent customer service.

Consider the five measures that comprise the vehicle owner service experience for franchise new car dealership. These measures, in order of importance, are service quality, service facility, service initiation, service advisor, and vehicle pick-up.

In practice, a company would survey customers to understand their experience for each of these interactions. The results are benchmarked to identify problem areas and initiatives that will most improve the satisfaction metric.

What satisfaction metrics are important for a car wash? Unfortunately, our experience has shown many operators do not have a formal system in place to measure satisfaction metrics in-store or online.

Moreover, we found many types of survey designs of the companies that did measure customer satisfaction. These varied from a simple one-page survey with just five measures to a three-pager with fourteen measures plus feedback comments and recommendations. We found the numeric rating scale of 1 (low) to 5 (high) was most common.

However, we also found operators using excellent to unacceptable, excellent to unsatisfactory, not satisfied to very satisfied, and very satisfied to very unsatisfied.

We found differences in the measurement metrics and their order of importance. Measures such as interior quality, employee attentiveness, and window quality were high up the list for full/flex washes. Whereas, wash quality, value/price, and vacuum quality where at the top for express exterior washes.

Several surveys had flaws such as beginning with rather intrusive questions such as requesting name, street address, phone number, and license plate number. Survey experts say personal information should be requested at the end of the survey and made optional.

None of the surveys, save one, rated personal safety or vehicle safety. Only one survey requested demographic information such as type of vehicle, gender, age bracket, and so forth.

We also reviewed findings in consumer studies published by the International Carwash Association and the industry trade journals to identify important car wash attributes. These measures included cleanliness and quality, price and value, shiny, convenience, dryness, and speed. Finally, we reviewed the results of surveys from our internal files.

What measures should comprise the vehicle owner service experience for a commercial car wash? We used an analogue procedure to ponder a possible schema.

Our analysis indicated that quality was the number one measure in order of importance. Here, quality refers to cleanliness of the exterior wash. Second in importance was employees/staff. This refers to attributes such as attitude, responsiveness, courtesy, and professionalism. Third in importance was price which refers to value for the money. Fourth in importance was safety which refers to vehicle (i.e., handling vehicle) and personal safety. Fifth in importance was convenience which refers to functionality and speed of service. Sixth was clean and inviting environment.

In practice, we would construct a survey and query customers to understand their experience for each of these measures. To illustrate:

How would you rate the quality of our exterior car wash service?

5 4 321

Comments: If average or worse, please tell us what the problem was.

After conducting a sufficient number of surveys, the results would be tabulated, as shown below, to determine the average score for each measure included in the model.

Rating Scale RateCountRate X Count
Score = 875/215 = 4.07

Here, 4.07 indicates most customers’ experience with wash quality ranges from good to excellent.

Subsequently, the individual scores for each measure can be tabulated to form an index (0 to 100). This allows for measurement of overall customer experience from period to period.

MeasureScoreMax(score/max) X 100
Index = (24.08 / 30) X 100 = 80.3

The satisfaction index in this example can be considered strong.  However, the individual measures, staff, safety, and environment fall below the critical value (80) and can be considered weak.

Here, we would take additional steps to drill down to identify the limitations of these measures and what could be done about it to improve the customer service experience.

Subsequently, we would repeat the survey process at some future date to measure and monitor progress.

Surveys can be enhanced by developing a weighting scheme for the measures, collecting demographic information, and asking if customers would like to be contacted by management or owner.

According to a study by ProfitWell, when a company’s products help customers achieve their objectives, it can result in a 10 percent to 15 percent increase in revenue growth, a 20 percent increase in customer conversion rate, and a 25 percent reduction in churn. I can’t speak to conversion or churn, but I can with regard to revenue growth exceeding 15 percent.

In the final analysis, customer satisfaction surveys can add value to the customer experience and customer support functions of a company. Sharing the results with managers and team members will allow them to gain insights into what customers want and experience better traction with existing customers.

Bob Roman is a car wash consultant. You can reach Bob via e-mail at or by visiting