Customer satisfaction scores increased by channel incentive program design and segmentation

How a flexible, strategic channel program changed the game for a major car manufacturer.

channel incentive program platform on laptop

In the ultra-competitive automotive industry, customer experience is critical to brand loyalty and market share. One major car manufacturer’s lagging customer satisfaction scores – due in large part to team member disengagement and subpar training certification rates – had leaders seeking to engage and motivate dealer owners, technicians and service staff to perform at higher levels.

Seeking a nimble, forward-thinking partner

The car manufacturer reached out to ITA Group for help finding the right solution to overcome their challenges – including a hard-to-reach audience spread across nearly 900 dealerships nationwide and justification of their existing incentive investment. They were also up against competing internal priorities and demand for higher customer satisfaction indexes, all the while battling a pre-existing earning structure that rewarded participants for doing what they’d always done, instead of prompting behavioural changes. 

When ITA Group entered the picture, it was clear the car brand needed flexibility in program strategy and technology, as well as a new way to segment and incentivise dealership owners and employees. To start, ITA Group data experts analysed program history and audience details, learning that the program was based around a single threshold participants either met or didn’t in order to receive an award. The strategy was valuable for consistent dealerships, but provided very little motivation for under-performing dealerships to improve service levels. 

Flexible strategy and technology laid a solid foundation

From initial assessment and analysis work, ITA Group generated a new segmentation strategy and program design. The result was a base program that prioritised customer experience elements throughout the year, then implemented strategically timed short-term promotions for training and service objectives. Moreover, the program encompassed new stretch goals for each segment to drive increases in satisfaction scores across the dealerships, not just consistency in the top tier. 

These changes, coupled with flexible technology and custom reporting, allowed ITA Group to manage, measure and report on the progress and success of the service incentives program so the automotive brand could refocus on what was most important to their business while still getting all the details, updates and insights generated by the program.

ITA Group livens up our ideas with their creative promotion approach. They are understanding of our company's restrictions but maintain a flexible approach. Everyone on the team is professional, forward thinkers, and can keep up with the fast pace.

Assistant Manager, Service Process

ITA Group is a partner in the true sense of the word. When we talk with other vendors about our expectations, ITA Group is used as the gold standard.

OEM VP, Customer Satisfaction

Relevant awards and communications boost ongoing engagement

With the strategy in place, it was time to engage participants. A comprehensive mixed-media communications campaign reached service team members in various roles and clearly described earning opportunities. Quizzes and additional gamification – including game plays  –  encouraged participants to visit the program website and regularly engage with their objectives. Finally, aspirational awards, including tangible items, experiential choices and personalised options for high earners, motivated both dealership and individual participation.

A decade of increased success resulted from ongoing assessment

Over the course of 10 years, this partnership has grown to manage 7–10 programs annually and sees ongoing participant engagement growth. Most important, the car brand has seen a consistent rise in their J.D. Power CSI score.

But it doesn’t stop there. ITA Group conducts ongoing industry and program assessments, as well as participant surveys, to provide further insights and strategies that will help the program evolve and meet client needs in an ever-changing field. As the program enters its second decade, it continues to show that a flexible, comprehensive incentive program that engages the right channel partners at the right time can have a positive impact on the customer experience.


9.0 (out of 10)

Net Promoter Score average across all participant roles


game plays earned for training and quiz completion with significant award value perception


best-in-class service manager rewards and recognition program (independent automotive industry study

55 point increase

in J.D. Power Customer Service Satisfaction Index (CSI) Score since 2009