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Bill Springer

Bill Springer President

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Has Your Dealer Service Department Embraced the Digital Age?

Despite dealership service departments’ best efforts to provide a great customer experience, many still find bringing their vehicle in for maintenance and repair to be a bit of a hassle. While we’ve come a long way as an industry — adapting and adjusting our fixed ops for “the new normal” — are we doing enough to make things as convenient as possible for our customers?

Today, as the digital age becomes more pervasive in all aspects of life, it’s imperative that dealer service departments keep up with the evolving trends customers not only prefer, but expect. Technology is certainly one of those customer demands. It’s not only valuable for improving the vehicle shopping process and generating sales, it’s becoming increasingly essential for dealer service departments as well.

So…

How digital is your dealership service department?

We get it. The thought of investing in tech and digital solutions may seem expensive and hard to implement at first, but the long game payoff is well worth it. And you don’t have to go all in from the start, either.

Here are three areas where your service department can make the digital transformation that will have the biggest impact in saving time, streamlining efficiencies, and keeping customers happy.


1. Offer Remote and Contactless Payment Services 

Do you offer your customers the ability to pay their repair order online or via text?

Most of the dealerships we work with tell us they get several calls a day with customers asking if they can pay online.

It’s a customer pain point that has a clear solution — a solution that can save all parties significant amount of time, and vastly improve the customer experience.

From ordering a pizza to taking the dog to the vet to getting your haircut, contactless payment is the norm these days, and dealer service departments should be no exception. In fact, a recent study by Visa revealed that more than two-thirds of consumers would switch to businesses that offer contactless payment.

contactless payment stat

Paying for repair orders online or through text without having to wait in line or interact with a cashier both increases customer satisfaction (your CSI scores will prove it!) and boosts dealer revenue and profitability.

Bottom line: many fixed ops departments are using integrated payment solutions to drive more revenue and retention — by simply filling a need and providing customers what they want.


2. Automate Your Check-In Process

Some Ford dealerships recently launched a cutting-edge digital kiosk pilot program that aims to expedite the service department check-in process. It’s providing a glimpse of where service departments may be heading in the not-so-distant future.

You may not be to this level of sophistication just yet (or even in the next several years), but other technologies exist for relatively easy and cost-effective digital upgrades to your check-in process.

Simply offering customers the ability for a quick iPad “check-in” when they pull into your bays saves both the techs and the customers an immense amount of time.

Service tech with customer


3. Get More Digital with Your Marketing and Communications

In our first point we mentioned how often service departments receive calls asking about online payment. You know what customer calls are even more frequent?

“What’s the status of my vehicle?”

“Is my truck done yet?”

”When can I swing by and pick up my car?”

Chances are they don’t like having to make those calls any more than you like answering them.

By going digital with your communication, you can significantly reduce that back and forth.

Texting during service visit stat

As customers get used to more digital interaction, it makes it even more important to keep the lines of digital communication open both when they’re onsite and when they leave the dealership. Communicating via the same channels they interact with friends and family adds a more personal touch that has become not only acceptable from your customers, but expected.

The results of DriveSure’s Dealership Retention Report were loud and clear regarding customers’ preferred method of communication, with 32 percent saying they preferred text communications between service visits, and 60 percent wanting text updates during visits.

And with 54 percent of customers indicating that they’re “likely or very likely” to download a mobile app on their phone for service reminders, this is another big opportunity for service departments.

Screenshot of DriveSure's Digital Pass


Integrated communication and payment solutions
It’s the types of technologies and conveniences mentioned above that put an emphasis on value, convenience, and trust, meeting a strong demand and delivering an exceptional customer experience. If you’re interested in learning more about a few of the platforms that can help your fixed ops department go digital, here are some options to kickstart your research:

Xtime

Text2Drive

Zipwhip

Square

Many dealer service department customers come in for the required low-mileage maintenance. They want fast and reliable service. They want to get in and get out. That’s our reality. And in order to enhance that reality for our customers, getting more digital with their touchpoints is essential.

For a deeper dive into the types of amenities and conveniences (digital or otherwise) your service department customers are looking for, download DriveSure’s full Dealership Service Retention Report here.

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