Thriving in the Emerging Customer Service Economy
Make no mistake: It’s all about the customer experience.
As such, to thrive in today’s automotive retail economy service managers and leaders need to think differently about how they use data and platforms when interacting with customers – and what that interaction looks like. And while it’s easy to point to the likes of Amazon as an example, keep in mind that servicing cars is quite different than selling books. It’s filled with unexpected vehicle issues, limited parts availability, software updates, customer no-shows, absent technicians and more. Every day presents a new set of challenges.
So here’s the question: How do dealers deliver a customer experience similar to that of Amazon? Yet make it scalable to the complex service ecosystem? It starts by thinking differently about how they use data before, during, and after each customer interaction.
Dealers who want to achieve this must take a two-step approach:
First, adopt a service department technology platform designed to deliver an integrated and thoughtful customer experience, across all customer touchpoints. It’s something that can only happen if the data collected is analyzed and then made available at these six critical moments of greatest service opportunity:
- Customer connection
- Scheduling appointments
- Vehicle check-in
- Vehicle inspection
- Customer engagement
- Customer check-out
Creating a Best-Ever Service Experience
Every point in these six critical moments brings with it an opportunity to increase revenue, boost CSI, and improve retention – but only if the data is timely, easy to use, and relevant.
Keep in mind that available data points include vehicle history, service codes, diagnostic information, and GPS data. Just knowing history, service and diagnostic data can help to significantly personalize the customer experience, maximizing the chance the customer will be happy and will return.
Next, work to transform the department culture so everyone focuses on “over delivering” service needs — to ensure a great customer experience. This is a profound change for a business whose fundamental practices and processes have remained stagnant over the past few decades. In addition to adopting a set of new technology-enabled processes and using data to constantly measure each one, employees need to embrace a culture of being in business to serve their customers. This includes:
- Relentless optimization of the experience, through data analysis and the establishment of customer-centric performance indicators. For example, tracking greeting time, wait time, improving walk-arounds, and ensuring the wash and top-off of finished cars. These micro-moments make a lasting customer impression.
- Providing comprehensive training to every new employee. And then refreshing and retraining them consistently.
- Benchmarking service department processes and CSI results, then driving toward specific areas of improvement.
The Connected Customer
Technology is only effective when the culture of the service drive promotes its use as an organic part of the daily routine. It’s not an either-or type of thing: without the right approach, the power of technology to simplify and streamline is impeded; without the right technology, a team intent on over-delivering customer satisfaction will become frustrated and leave for more sophisticated stores.
According to a recent study by Price Waterhouse Cooper, “an average of 48% of U.S. consumers point to friendly, welcoming service as uniquely defining success in an industry; fewer (32%) pointed to having the most up-to-date technology.” In addition, the study found that 55% of U.S. consumers “strongly disagreed” with the idea that human interaction would not be needed when technology improves.
The message? Humans + Tech = Better Service. And that creates loyalty. In the automotive space, when you put the two together the results are compelling across the six critical moments.
As the automotive industry simultaneously faces headwinds and change driven by connectivity and mobility, service department efficiency and profitability will take center stage as the most important part of a successful dealership.
To win business and increase retention, service managers must begin to think differently about how to create those perfect moments. And while it’s true that we can debate the impact of technology, one fact remains. Today’s consumer is already connected – and they expect you to be, as well.
Part One: Creating a Best-Ever Service Experience for Today…and Tomorrow
Part Two: Creating a Best-Ever Service Experience for Today…and Tomorrow
It’s Not What You Say, But How You Say It…and When