Part 9 – Increasing Customer Engagement in the Service Driveway

By November 27, 2014 February 6th, 2017 Think Tank

Dealerships are aware of the importance of engaging with the customers and providing great customer service in order to increase Aftersales revenue. While providing free coffee and Wi-Fi might make customers happy, it does not necessarily strengthen customer retention.

In this blog article, we explore how keeping a customer engaged throughout the service process makes them more trusting and loyal towards a dealership.


“We have already made the effort of assessing the most productive way to run a dealership, such as how to greet the customers, treat staff, and run the service departments. We want to know if there are any areas where we can improve the process or improve the technology so that it will improve productivity and reduce cost of a dealership.”

Starting from Now

There is a great diversity in the level and approach to service customer engagement around the world. This is different to technical repair processes where the diversity is less significant. Service departments have a natural affinity to implement technical processes and procedures, which are heavily supported and measured by OEs. Engaging in a trusted, friendly, and revenue raising customer-facing discussion doesn’t always come easy to service personnel.

improving-dealership-processesLeading edge management teams are putting processes and tools together to help staff engage with customers more effectively. However, such tools and processes are often cobbled together silos that are seen as requiring too much effort for the result. On the other end of the spectrum, there is management that clings to the most rudimentary ways of engaging with service customers, in the view that it’s the service that is what’s important, not appearance or what they might consider chatter.

Automakers are pushing to overhaul the way service customers are dealt with. In part, this has been driven by economic necessity to increase Aftersales revenues. It is also driven by the recognition that a successful customer-focused Aftersales strategy is vital to retaining them. When such drives fail to provide tools that make it easy to follow and accept, they often fall short of the intended results and dealers are reluctant to support the next push. Dealerships that don’t provide consistent and transparent service customer engagement processes typically have lower customer satisfaction ratings and are challenged to qualitatively measure the effectiveness of their staff’s performance.

“The amount of redundant data entry in a dealership is outrageous. The fixed operations particularly, don’t have the full diverse set of tools they need to be successful in that area of the business.”

Vision of the Future

In 2020, all service related processes will be quicker, more accurate, and consistently carried out globally. The separation between selling the work and doing the work will be seamless, as technicians become clinicians and high-tech tools drive consistently high quality engagements with service customers.

Outward reaching technology systems (‘apps’) and a clinical approach to servicing, allow service customers to ‘participate’ with the dealership and its processes, including diagnoses, pricing negotiation and acceptance testing. Vehicle users who bring vehicles to dealerships for service become participating partners (of varying degree). Service customers’ participation will commence before a service appointment is made, when the vehicle handover at the dealership occurs, during the service and repair process, during test and acceptance, and post vehicle recovery assessments.

Aftersales operational systems (internal1 and external2), will operate in a unified manner with no data double handling. Data entry tasks are minimized as ‘devices’3 will self-input. Aftersales staff will be able to identify, record, and track specific service lane diagnostics and instantly deliver ‘actionable intelligence’4 to customers that is easy to understand and builds trust.

In 2020, vehicle telemetric systems and sensory rich customer PDA devises will enable vehicle health checks to be delivered to customers in seconds. Staff will engage with service customers already knowledgeable of each customer’s vehicle health, their commercial profile, and dealership/OE resources available and prematched to their potential needs.

As well as revolutionising the Dealer/Service Customer engagement, the new technology, processes, and Big Data will revolutionise real-time warranty and insurance claim authorisation, payment, and auditing. All this and more will contribute to a popular conquest of Brand user aftermarket attrition.

Bridge to the Future

Technology will be used to address the three essential buyer prerequisites: Information, Involvement, and Control. Automakers and ITPs like Infomedia will improve the accuracy and delivery speed of vehicle and service information so owners/users have instant access to the knowledge they need, anytime and anywhere they want. Process guidance technology will allow service staff to deal more effectively with sales transactions and meet customer expectations, while fully automated versions — avatar to avatar — will totally inform, negotiate and close sales transactions without the involvement of any dealership personnel.

improving-customer-service-engagementHead-up display (HUD) technology will enable vehicle health checks and diagnostics to be performed using ‘augmented reality’, with vehicle-specific inspection checks delivered straight to the technician’s glasses and the customer’s PDA. Voice recognition during repair operations will provide hands-free data recording, increasing technician’s productivity and allowing hassle-free customer participation. VIN and Context precise parts and labour information will drive a seamless process of identifying, pricing, and recommending work.

By combining telemetric information with headup display technology, technicians will be able to identify replacement parts using image recognition. Stock levels will be checked and parts ordered automatically.

The traditional roles of the service advisor, technician, parts interpreter, and other positions in Aftersales will transform to blended clinician roles that will facilitate a leap in operational efficiency, customer satisfaction, and return patronage. The role changes will build customer brand engagement and loyalty.

1. DMS, Specialist Operations, Diagnostics, Vehicle Telematics, etc.
2. Customer Apps, Third Party Resources (Social Media, Government and Financial services …), etc.
3. Vehicle Systems, Diagnostic Devices, Avatar Devices, Operational Systems, HUD, Information Proximity Devices, Numerous Transmitting Sensors, Image Recognition, etc.
4. Pre-service: Statistical probabilities; Estimates; Negotiation; Appointments; …; , In-service: VHC; A/V monitoring; What-if Decision Juncture Participation; …; , Post-service: Forecast to Actual Outcome Analysis; CSI, VHC Follow-up; Forward Service/Upgrade Planning; … ; etc.