The Car Buying Experience & The Service Department’s Role In Customer Loyalty
Buying a new car is always an exciting, yet stressful experience for people. It’s no doubt the car buying experience is one of the biggest decisions someone makes in life. What about after someone buys a car?
The sales process is nowhere near the lifespan of a new vehicle just sold to a customer. After the sales process, people begin developing relationships with mechanics who they trust.
The service department is responsible for such a large portion of a dealership’s revenue, so it’s CRUCIAL to build long last relationships with car buyers. The point a lot of dealerships seem to miss is: a customer’s perception of a dealership is way more often than not influenced by a service department than the sales office.
Good customer service is important in the sales process (nobody is denying that.) Where the customer really gets a good impression is from a service department. No matter what you specialize in selling, your service department is much more likely to interact with customers rather than the sales office after the deal.
We realize that customers may (and do) recommend dealerships based solely on the sales process, but where a dealership can really suffer in making a buyer a loyal customer is in the service department. When somebody has a poor experience, feel they were ripped off, feel distrust of the mechanics or even when they feel the service was sub-par or felt the service advisor was rude they will NEVER come back.
New Customers VS Returning Customers
It’s common knowledge that retaining a loyal customer over acquiring a new one is more cost effective. In fact, it can be anywhere from 5-25X more profitable. So it’s extremely important to do everything in your power to have the best possible customer experience in your dealership.
The possibility to have a customer for life (yes you can acquire a customer for life) after the sales process is there. As the lifespan of a new vehicle is so much longer than the sales process, we need to focus effort on service repair for customers (new car buyers specifically.)
The common rhetoric in dealerships today is that young people have no loyalty to dealerships. That could actually be because dealerships just aren’t appealing to them the right way. Maintaining a high quality, profitable and more importantly effective service department is extremely hard work.
So without any further adieu, here are 3 simple customer service strategies your service department needs to implement RIGHT NOW (before you lose any more business to the dreaded other guys.)
3 Effective Customer Service Strategies You Need To Implement
1) Implement a Better Dealer Management System
Ensuring your service department is up to date on the what’s going on like keeping track of parts, warranty work, scheduling and more. Dealerships also need to keep track of their inventory. A good DMS can ensure you’re always stocked with appropriate inventory to meet demand and customer satisfaction.
When you run out of parts, and force customers to wait days (even weeks at times!) for you to get the right part it immediately leaves customers with a sour taste in their mouths. And this is before you even start working on the car/recommending service!
AutoServe1 is integrated with many great DMS systems to make dealership’s service departments the most profitable, organized and easy.
2) Implement a rewards program
Look around in almost any store. What do you see? Well, it may not be that obvious but rewards programs are more popular than ever. Places like: McDonald’s, Tim Horton’s, pizza places and essentially any other business are offering customers free products, money off discounts and other offers in the attempt to build customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Your service department can have a simple offer like: “Come in for 5 oil changes, get a free digital vehicle inspection”. Or you could offer people a free set of wiper blades, lube or oil after their service. The sky’s the limit here, be creative! What low ticket items can you offer customers for free or at low cost to build customer loyalty, trust, and respect.
When people get free items from stores, it’s also likely the store gets free advertising out of the offer. Many people start telling their friends about the “gift” you gave them by going, and some even go on social media giving you praise.
3) Implement Digital Vehicle Inspections Technology
A quality digital vehicle inspection tool like AutoServe1, gives your service department the ultimate customer relations tool. You’ll be able to show customers exactly what is wrong with their vehicles. Informative, easily explainable images and videos of problem areas on the vehicle are the modern shop’s best friend.
You’ll never have to deal with pestering customers wanting a full tour of their car showing you in person demanding to be shown the problem. Your mechanics and service advisors will be able to easily explain to customers why a repair is recommended. They can even send full digital vehicle inspection reports right to a customer’s smartphone.
Throw away the pen and paper. Be a part of the auto industry’s future with our digital vehicle inspection software:
- Voice-to-text, image and video sharing, text message capability
- Communicate directly with your customer throughout the entire inspection
- Update repair status, progress, and setbacks instantly
- Track tickets sold, total inspections, and reports sold with our analytics dashboard
- Customize your digital inspection options with our Builder1 feature
- Keep all of your inspections in one place with our cloud-based system