Service to Go
by CDK Global | 19 May 2020

Service to Go

If you’re like most people, you’re probably starting to grow a little weary of phrases like “these unprecedented times”, or words like “pandemic”. But as COVID-19 continues to change our world and the way we do business, these phrases and words seem inescapable. In the automotive industry, we look to find a balance between the headlines and the reality of slowing auto sales.

So how do dealerships compensate for slower sales in today’s world?

You start with what you’ve always done —provide a superior customer experience, and let the Service department be your savior as sales ebb and flow. Service has always been a key profit center for any dealership. But now the question becomes, how do you keep your service lanes full when physical distancing is a necessity, and so many consumers remain uneasy about leaving their home?

What does service look like in today’s environment?

A traditional Service workflow often requires face-to-face interaction throughout the process from the time your customer drops off their vehicle, until the time they pick it up and pay for the service. Although some interactions, like greeting a customer as they arrive in the lane with tablet in hand, and conducting a walk-around inspection, are beneficial under normal circumstances, the rules of the game have now changed.

There is a silver lining to this situation though. Today’s technology gives us the option to conduct our lives remotely, whether it’s working and schooling from home, or buying goods and services. Dealerships have the ability to utilize a complete hands-off Service workflow from start to finish. With people driving less and not relying on their vehicles as much, now is a good time to encourage repairs.

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It all starts with scheduling the appointment

Scheduling the service appointment is the easy part. In fact, many dealerships already incorporate some form of online appointment scheduling through their website. Customers can use their smart device or laptop to make an appointment anywhere, anytime. And even if the customer prefers to call to schedule a service appointment, they’re still following the concept of physical distancing. 

Getting the vehicle to the dealership is where things start to get a little more interesting. Many customers are now feeling less comfortable with leaving their home to drop off their vehicle for service. Dealerships can now provide a valet service to pick up the vehicle and return it to the customer when the repairs are complete. And when this is done online, dealerships can safely manage the process by only offering available pickup times based on their resources. The dealership is even notified electronically anytime someone chooses this option.

When it comes to getting the customers’ vehicle to the dealership for service, there are several options available. One option is to have another employee drive the valet to pick up the vehicle. A second option is to use a rideshare service, such as Lyft, to drive your valet to pick up the customer’s car. Both options should be easy to arrange from within your integrated service solution. To further save time and increase efficiency, you can generate the service repair order from a tablet right at the customer’s home. This allows the dealership employee to complete a damage walk-around and lane inspection onsite, and then collect the customer’s electronic signature without missing a beat.

At the dealership

Once the vehicle is at the dealership, email or text the customer to update them on the status of the work. It’s safe, simple, and the method most consumers prefer. A good communications solution also makes it easier to maximize profit by selling recommended additional service identified by the Technician while the vehicle is still on the lift.

A mobile approval with additional service recommendations can be sent to the customer by text or email. Some tools will even allow you to include pictures and videos taken by the Technician. Including images and videos in your proposal to the customer allows them to see the work needed, and increases the chance they will approve the work. Remote approvals allow the customer to approve or decline the proposed additional work right from their smartphone — no need to leave their home.

When the work is done

Let the customer know the work is complete and send a request for payment, including a copy of the final invoice, by text or email. By using any number of safe and secure digital payment options to complete the service, customers avoid waiting in line at the cashier and completely eliminate any concerns about physical distancing while at the dealership.

The only thing that’s left is returning the vehicle to the customer. Like the vehicle pickup, you can provide options that are hands-off to the customer. A dealership employee using a dealership vehicle can pick up the Valet, or they can use a rideshare service and arrange for the pickup from their smartphone. The rideshare can be conveniently set up through your Service solution.

For that final white glove touch, make sure the vehicle is clean and sanitized before returning it to the customer. Also, have your valet give the vehicle one final wipe down at the customers’ home. It’s a good idea to make sure your customers know that their car has been given a thorough cleaning. That little extra can put them at ease and goes a long way toward building trust and cementing a long-term relationship.

What’s next?

Even before this current health crisis, the car buying process and dealership services had begun to evolve. 

Along with offering vehicle pickup and delivery, dealers are looking at ways to eliminate the need for the vehicle to be at the dealership for service. Some dealerships are now starting to provide the option of having minor maintenance work performed onsite at the customer’s home. Your Service solution should help your dealership with providing this courtesy to your customers.

Although the Service workflow may have evolved, you still need to meet the basic requirements to provide a Service experience that meets and exceeds your customers’ expectations:

• Simple and safe in today’s environment
• Builds trust and encourages retention
• Respectful of customers’ time
• Provides customers with options

While much remains to be seen, there’s no doubt that consumer behaviors have significantly shifted. Emerging technologies will alter the way you approach service moving forward, even after the current health crisis is over.

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