Smart Technology for Successful Service Retention

By June 12, 2014 February 6th, 2017 Think Tank

Delivering a consistent, seamless and personalized experience

A service department can help to increase a dealership’s profit margin—and a positive experience in the service department can help build strong personal relationships, which results in customer trust and contributes to overall brand loyalty. Today, smart dealers are turning to smart technology to enhance their service operations and boost their service retention rates.

Service retention is built on delivering an exceptional experience and superior service, quickly and at a transparent price. Today’s consumers have vastly different expectations about how commerce should be executed then they did five years ago. They expect accurate online pricing to be available with the click of a button, fast diagnosis of issues, easy to understand information, and they also want to play an active role in the transaction. This has become the norm across consumer interactions, from online retail, to big box stores—and now on the service drive.

Connecting-to-your-carIn recent years automakers have increased warranty periods and introduced capped price servicing programs to aid retention. While these tactics have reduced the ownership costs and made service more attractive for price-conscious customers, post-warranty retention rates are still poor. Because of this, dealerships are losing customers at the point in a vehicle’s lifecycle that would normally bring in the higher parts and labor sales associated with post-warranty repairs. Industry research identifies trust and perceived value as key drivers behind customer defection to independent repairers.

Technology, along with people and processes, is a key ingredient in a winning customer retention strategy. The right technology can empower both the service advisor and the customer by offering accuracy, transparency and an exceptional experience. Today there are VIN-precise inspection and quoting solutions that have built-in sales psychology to effectively position dealership staff as problem solvers in the eyes of the customers. They allow the dealership to present a caring persona, supported by service information that is precise, clear and relevant—driving consistently high-quality engagements.

When deciding which technology is best for your dealership, look for packages that include VIN-precise information backed by genuine original equipment (OE) data. Service pricing and multi-point inspection solutions that use genuine OE data offer unrivaled transparency for customers. For many customers the service drive can be an alien environment— they feel uncertain about what service is being recommended and why. The good solutions offer fast, accurate and fully itemized prices for labor, parts and supplies associated with repairs, delivered in a language the customer can understand. They help bring consistency across all the customer touch points. They also drive measurable productivity gains for both service and parts departments.

VIN-Driven Service Pricing

Nothing can erode confidence and anger a customer quite like receiving an all-inclusive price with little explanation. Often the pre-service customer engagement is oversimplified, using menu boards that lack the pricing detail customers desire. VIN-driven quoting solutions can help by providing quick, clear, professionally presented estimates based on genuine OE data. They reduce the chance of misquoting the work and ensure a consistent margin for every repair order.

TODAY’S CONSUMERS HAVE VASTLY DIFFERENT EXPECTATIONS ABOUT HOW COMMERCE SHOULD BE EXECUTED THAN THEY DID FIVE YEARS AGO. THEY EXPECT ACCURATE ONLINE PRICING TO BE AVAILABLE WITH THE CLICK OF A BUTTON, FAST DIAGNOSIS OF ISSUES, EASY-TO-UNDERSTAND INFORMATION AND THEY WANT TO PLAY AN ACTIVE ROLE IN THE TRANSACTION.

Technology can allow service advisors to quickly put the information into a format that is easily digestible for customers, itemizing the parts, labor and supplies required for the repair. This type of solution can give the customer a feeling of greater involvement, transparency, personalized service and a sense of control. And, when the customer receives a bill for service that mirrors the original quote they were given, they gain trust in the dealership and are more likely to leave happy.

Multi-point Inspection (MPI)

Many OEs have mandated the use of inspection-based selling with paper templates. These systems are often a productivity drain and offer an inconsistent customer experience. Recently, there have been substantial technology innovations that make digital multi-point inspections an essential tool for any franchise dealership.

The next-generation of vehicle inspection solutions offers true process guidance, productivity and customer involvement. They are tablet-based and integrate VIN-precise service pricing, for automated pricing of identified work. They are fast, accurate and facilitate increased customer authorizations on the day of service and when followed up later. They also help communications across all dealership departments. The process of identifying the work, pricing parts, labor and shop supplies, and gaining authorization is seamless.

Integrated, digital MPI solutions help engage the customer in the quoting process, which gives them greater control over what is happening and provides them with undisputed evidence of the vehicle’s service needs, creating transparency. Using an electronic tool rather than a paper form means that all the information needed for the inspection can be housed in one place. The inspection process is also more likely to be consistent from visit to visit and between different service technicians. Next generation solutions also incorporate image and video capture, allowing service staff to share visual evidence of the recommended repairs. This leads to higher repair authorizations and much improved customer experience.

TECHNOLOGY, ALONG WITH PEOPLE AND PROCESSES, IS A KEY INGREDIENT IN A WINNING CUSTOMER RETENTION STRATEGY. THE RIGHT TECHNOLOGY CAN EMPOWER BOTH THE SERVICE ADVISOR AND THE CUSTOMER BY OFFERING ACCURACY, TRANSPARENCY AND AN EXCEPTIONAL EXPERIENCE.

Digital-based multi-point inspection tools have many other features that help build a positive customer relationship. They can provide a process for capturing deferred repairs that allows the service technician to follow up on the declined work at a later date. They can assess a vehicle’s health and help service technicians advise customers about issues long before they become big problems. This shows the client that the technician is proactive and paying attention to their individual needs. The result is that the service advisors and technicians are able to forge a relationship built on trust in which he or she can take on the role of advisor to the customer, making recommendations and sales much easier.

Online Service Quoting and Booking

Fixed ops 2Online quoting and booking tools give customers the freedom and convenience to look up a service estimate and make self-serve appointments at any time. This eliminates that hassle of booking an appointment by phone. Online booking can make the service process welcoming, unintimidating and informative right from the start. The better online booking tools allow customers to use the vehicle’s VIN to gain real-time quotes with a detailed job story, part descriptions, fluid specifications and booking options.

Online appointment booking and service quoting is in line with the expectations of today’s consumer, who has been trained by amazon and other online retail operations to expect an experience that is instant, connected and personalized.

Survey Tools

Studies show that when customers are unhappy, only a small minority will complain. The rest will just stop using the product or service. When you encourage real-time feedback from customers, you give them a voice and allow them to participate in the conversation. You let them know that you care about their input. Furthermore, gathering negative feedback gives the dealership the crucial opportunity to correct the grievance. Studies show that if a negative complaint is resolved quickly, 95% of the complainers will become loyal customers.

Dealerships can encourage real-time feedback by using tablet based, electronic survey tools, offered to customers while they are still on the premises. Complaints can be addressed immediately, resulting in higher CSI scores while turning dissatisfied customers into satisfied ones. For satisfied customers, asking for their opinion engages them in the service experience and allows the dealership to capture their insight into what is working. Another benefit is that capitalizing on immediate customer feedback allows dealers to develop a targeted, personalized relationship with their customers. This helps the customer see that the dealership is a place where they are valued and where they’re not just another nameless patron.

THE NEXT-GENERATION OF VEHICLE INSPECTION SOLUTIONS OFFERS TRUE PROCESS GUIDANCE, PRODUCTIVITY AND CUSTOMER INVOLVEMENT. THEY’RE TABLET-BASED AND INTEGRATE VIN-PRECISE SERVICE PRICING, FOR AUTOMATED PRICING OF IDENTIFIED WORK.

With so much resting on high service retention—including profits and brand loyalty—dealers have to approach this challenging problem with creativity and ingenuity. They need the best tools and the best resources on their side. Technology gives dealers a huge advantage, allowing them to deliver a consistent, seamless and personalized experience to their customers. Technology can allow dealership service departments to be accurate, efficient, proactive and transparent, all the while engaging their customers in the process. When customers have a truly exceptional experience on the service drive, they will see the value of the dealership and won’t trust their vehicle anywhere else.