4 Min ReadJune 6, 2024

How Dealership Service Departments Can Enhance the Customer Experience

How Dealership Service Departments Can Enhance the Customer Experience.

The spotlight is shining on delivering great customer experiences. In fact, 84% of dealers plan to increase their focus on the customer experience in 2024. And great strides have been made to meet buyer demand for a more efficient and seamless car-buying process. But what about on the Service side of the business?

A dealership’s Service department is its best bet for steady and reliable income. So, it makes sense to also prioritize the customer experience in Fixed Operations. Dealers who address and fix common points of customer frustration within the Service process will enjoy more revenue, higher CSI and loyal customers. Focus efforts on the following.

24/7 Appointments and Scheduling

Customers want Service scheduling to be convenient, fast and easy. Focus on ways to optimize the experience, both online and over the phone. For example, Service webpages should have a prominent button where customers can access scheduling tools and set an appointment in minutes.

Evaluate your phone system. Are customers waiting on hold, lost in rerouting or dropped altogether? Digital Voice Assistants (DVAs) can answer phones, schedule appointments and provide dealership information like hours and location. Best of all, it can respond to customers 24/7.

Inform With Video

Vehicles are complex and most customers have only basic knowledge of how they work. It’s no wonder there’s confusion, and even frustration, when a customer in for a tire rotation is presented with a list of additional recommended services that they don’t understand. Video can change the game in terms of transparency and trust.

Evaluate video platforms and line up some basic technician training. Once up and running, technicians can record a personalized walk-around, include messages and full service explanations, and text the video to the customer. When customers understand the “why,” they’ll be more likely to approve the service and leave feeling good about the experience.

Accurate Repair Orders

It’s frustrating for customers when an RO is quoted and then the cost goes up mid-repair. Whether due to a misdiagnosed problem, an extra part needed, or a myriad of other reasons, changes to an RO are an unpleasant surprise that can hurt customer satisfaction.

A strict validation process can mitigate the problem of changing ROs. Mandate that a Service Advisor accompany the customer to the vehicle and verify the exact concern with clarifying questions.

For example, a customer concerned about a noise from the front of the car needs to be asked if it happens at certain speeds, going around corners, while in park, and so on. These answers will help with diagnostic procedures so the diagnosis can be as exact as possible. The customer will also feel heard and understood so they have more confidence in the experience.

Unavailable Parts

When a customer books an appointment, they assume that all needed parts will be available. Trust erodes when a Service Advisor calls later to explain they don’t, in fact, have the part and the repair will take one to two days longer. Customers who need their vehicles to get to work and fulfill obligations will be understandably frustrated and less likely to leave a positive review.

The most important task a Service Advisor can perform to nip this problem in the bud is to review Service appointments two to three days in advance and check that all needed parts are in stock. If a part must be ordered, it’s better to call the customer and offer to push out the appointment rather surprise them with a delay in the bay.

Service Updates

No Service center purposely keeps customers in the dark during a vehicle repair. Packed days are a hallmark of the Service Advisor's and tech’s jobs, and taking time out to text or call a customer often falls by the wayside. Yet, customers expect timely updates, and we know that nearly eight out of 10 (78%) find receiving updates on the progress of service as one of the most difficult tasks at a dealership.

The ability to update customers is available through technology, like mobile updates, and should be a consideration to help improve the Service experience. Vehicle tracking technology is also available to send texts to customers with a real-time status of their vehicles throughout the Service process.

A smooth Service process is a powerful way for dealerships to deliver an exceptional and successful customer experience. By leveraging technology, process changes and people, automotive Service departments can reduce customer friction points and increase customer loyalty, revenue and CSI.

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Don Zogg
By Don Zogg
Product Marketer, FixedOps

Don is a Product Marketer at CDK where he drives the marketing strategy for Fixed Operations. A 25-year CDK veteran, he is passionate about developing and delivering product-specific information to support OEM partnerships for our automotive retail customers.

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