Covid hit all industries hard, and automotive was not immune to this. When March came, we were scrambling to figure out how to perform and what, if anything, we were allowed to do at the dealership.
Each state had different rules and regulations with stay at home initiatives, but most deemed Automotive Service as an essential business. And service is what truly saved the day. From our data, we noted that our service leads were up YoY from 2019, and engagement was up as well by almost 270,000 leads. Many dealers were able to keep their businesses open (more than likely with a skeleton crew), and continue to maintain relationships with their customers. And some were able to sell vehicles because of service being open as well.
What does this tell us?
Service continues to not only contribute to the overall profitability of the dealership, but is almost a majority contributor. According to NADA, 49.6% of the dealership gross profit comes from the Service/ Parts department. This highlights just how important it is to find new ways to not only showcase our service offerings, but to also make communication with our service customers seamless and helpful.
There are ways leading dealerships have accommodated customer needs in regards to communication, and here are a few examples and tips on how to not only ensure you are engaging with your customers, but that you are also giving them the concierge experience they desire.
Self service has dominated much of our shopping and normal day-to-day activities. From the self service lane at the local grocery store to the kiosks at McDonald’s, people are choosing to take control of their shopping experience, and are looking for similar experiences in all areas of their life.
Do you offer an easy to use self service option for service appointments? Not one that makes the customer input their vin, mileage, etc., but one that allows her to select the best date and time for the service required. Too many scheduling tools are so cumbersome that the customer would rather take the car to the 10 minute Oil Change garage than try to figure out the information needed.
Take a moment and go through the entire process on your site. When was the last time you did that? Complete the full experience and note where there is friction--places where a customer would drop off and abandon the appointment process.
Then, note the communication cadence. That is the next important element.
Communication-- Needs to be More Than an Ordinary Email
What is the communication cadence for your customers and how are you making the dealership available when they need you? The importance of a 24/7 response with live agents is becoming more of an expectation than a bonus. What are you using to respond not only to your service website leads, but also the manufacturer leads?
Consumers expect a response within 10 minutes or less. Make sure you have a specialized Service BDC who is trained in automotive to assist with customers, answer questions, and schedule their appointments. If you are using an email response, make sure that it offers the ability for the customer to easily schedule an appointment and one that works alongside your OSS tool.
The easier you make it for a customer to connect and set an appointment with you, the more likely you are to have that customer return for more service or to purchase their next vehicle.
If you are looking for a Virtual BDC for service, BCP can help.
Video is another simple way to connect with customers when physically meeting is not an option or not the desired option for the customer. With so many going to a concierge style service, or a pick-up and delivery model, video is an essential part of communicating with your customer. These simple ways listed below take little to no training and will increase CSI and transparency:
- Confirmation of appointment video: Appointments are more likely to show when they have a confirmation text/email. Make that confirmation more personal with a quick video. Either the Service Advisor or BDC agent can send this to the customer to ensure they know when the appointment is, know where to bring the vehicle, and have directions. When you put a face to a message, it becomes more personal and you build a relationship with the customer.
- Tech or advisor update: Many customers are choosing to leave the dealership instead of waiting for service to be completed. Have the Service Advisor and/or Technician send a video of the vehicle stating what you have done, and what needs to be done. If the tire tread is low, show the customer. If a filter needs replacing, show the customer. This way, they feel as though you are being completely transparent, and they then have the choice to accept or deny the additional service. But regardless, they feel as though you are communicating with them.
If you love the idea of video, but are not sure what solution to choose, or how to get started, reach out and we can assist.
The Service Department has always been important, but these last few months have shown us that they are vital--and the customer experience must be excellent.
- Evaluate the customer experience at your dealership and acknowledge the opportunities for improvement
- Make sure your correspondence with the customer offers scheduling options. Make things as seamless as possible
- Video. Video. Video. It is an easy addition that will give you huge results
If you need more information on video or BDC enablers, reach out. We are more than happy to help you increase your service engagement and R/O dollars!