8 Customer Experience Differences That The Best Auto Dealers Are Delivering
Gone are the days of all the energy, money and attention going to the new car showroom. While that may have flown in the days when auto dealers made their profits on new car sales, those days are gone and times are changing. With information parity reaching a point where consumers know more about the cost of a car than the person selling it, the profit center of the dealership has had to change, and where else but the service department to make that happen? The innovators get this: they have rejuvenated their service and parts departments to lure customers to not only buy their car, but have it serviced where the car was bought. This is the service department of the future my friends, and to take the customer experience to the next level, dealerships will need to step up their service department game. Want to know if your dealership is making the grade? Compare your service departments to the trendsetters and leaders who are putting to practice many, if not all of these 8 items into their everyday business.
- The Perception: From the moment you pull your car up to the Service Door, you will be greeted by name by a professional, clean cut and knowledgeable “Service Ambassador”, who will ask you several detailed questions about the reason for your visit and what problems you are experiencing with your vehicle. They will then perform a detailed visual inspection of your vehicle, noting any other areas that may need to be addressed by the technician or can be easily taken care of right in the service drive, including fluid levels, tire pressure or replacement wiper blades. Service with a smile? Check, but also a highly professional greeting that says, “ we value your time and we want you to feel good about choosing us. “
- Mr. Clean: Remember those small dingy waiting areas in dealership with 2-day-old coffee and magazines that weren’t current a year ago? Neither does the next wave of auto service departments. These departments are clean, modern and bright, and reflect the same showroom environment that the new car buyer is experiencing.
- Little Delights: Fresh coffee, snacks to go and a cold water bottle aren’t the exception; they are the norm in the next generation of service departments. Keeping customers happy and fueled is a great way to make them happier about the bill that is coming their way. And now the delights go a little further with golf putting areas, smoothie bars and even a massage therapist onsite. In these service departments, clients are getting the royal treatment and don’t think they will forget it, because they won’t!
- Got Loyalty?: While not everyone loves those little loyalty cards, some dealers are differentiating their service by offering simple loyalty programs that have value and keep customers coming back. The one-off service shops and chains have long used the “10th oil change is free promotion, so why not do the same, or something similar for your customers?
- Legendary Moments: Sometimes it is about seeing an opportunity to seize a moment and create a customer for life. I can recall a recent experience where I came in for service of my car one morning and I was dressed up and the greeter asked me if I had a big meeting. I said yes, I went on to tell him how I was picking up my boss at the airport and had to be there in a few hours. I was anxious about the time it was going to take to get the service done, but the light had been on so I wanted to get it resolved. When the car came out on time as they promised, they had also washed, vacuumed and put a little new car scent to freshen the air. The advisor shared how the greeter told him about the meeting. It was a small touch, but let’s just say I keep going back.
- Transparent: In the old days of service, you didn’t know whether your car was being worked on or if it was back in the alley or off for a joyride. But smart dealerships are creating more transparent viewable work areas where clients can see what is being done. In an industry that has to often been questioned for its integrity, a great way to differentiate is to leave nothing pertinent to the customers’ imagination.
- Price Buster: Nobody in their right mind would head to their dealership to buy tires or a new car battery, doing that at the dealership was like throwing money away. Today’s forward thinking dealership will match prices or even beat them knowing a profit can still be turned all while keeping the customer in their service shop. It’s small innovation, but it works!
- Queue Crushing: It’s hard to forget the helpless feeling that is created while waiting for your car to be services. But that is no longer a problem in the customer experience focused service department. These folks are giving clear timelines to their customers along with a million little luxuries like Internet and recliners to customers to make what wait time there is better. Technology is even being deployed to almost make a game out of getting the car in and out of the service center so customers can see just how well the service team is doing.