*This article previously appeared in the Reynolds and Reynolds FUEL monthly newsletter*
By Jeff Adams
It’s no secret some consumers have a sense of distrust when it comes to dealerships and dealership service departments. The major pain point: the fear of being overcharged and underappreciated before they hand over the keys. This distrust is often perpetuated by article after article that portrays dealerships in an untrustworthy light. So, how can you gain community trust and still be profitable?
One of the best ways to get new and repeat customers in your service department is through transparency. Although this is a familiar term, it’s important we translate this into your service department by making the process as predictable as possible. You create this atmosphere when you:
Display honest pricing.
Nobody likes it when restaurant menus don’t show pricing for meals or drinks. Customers feel the same when they can’t see the cost of your services. Having to guess the cost of their visit automatically makes their guard go up. Be as upfront with them as possible from the first interaction – whether online or at the advisor’s station.
Provide a fool-proof greeting process.
Part of transparency is knowing what to expect. This means a regular customer or a new customer can easily walk through the greeting process and receive the same treatment repeatedly. If a new customer pulled into your lot today, could they easily find your service drive? Once they get there, do they know the next steps for getting checked in? Your dealership should either have enough signage and online information to get a customer to the correct place, or your greeting staff should be ready at the door so the customer isn’t lost or confused. The next time the customer visits, they should be able to go through the same steps they did previously and know exactly what to expect – a menu presentation, a rundown of the multi-point inspection process, and next steps for their appointment.
Make sure customers see what they are signing.
When customers sign a paper document, allowing them to read the fine print is easy. However, with paper comes a lack of integration and the potential for the document to get lost or destroyed, and impossible to reference. With a digital RO comes the easy integration into your system and electronic file storage, but having a customer sign a signature line with no context instead of the actual RO is not transparent. It’s important your dealership has the best of both worlds with a greeting tool that allows the customer to see and sign a digital RO, creating transparency and trust.
Keep customers fully informed about their vehicle state.
Customers need to know about the state of their vehicle, which means sharing more than just the red items on the multipoint. If a technician marks something as yellow, the customer should know:
Many times for yellow items, you can advise the customer this is something to keep an eye on for their next appointment. This lets the customer know something will need to be fixed in the future and your dealership is one they can trust their vehicle with.
Don’t forget to also mention or praise the green items. Let them know these items will likely need repaired at some point, but currently look great and are not a concern.
Let customers easily refer to their previous service history at your dealership.
Make previous items easily viewable for the customer. This can be through a printed report they keep for their files, or in their online account for service scheduling. They can walk into your dealership without worrying about being blindsided by repeat recommendations, and they can easily refer to this information to schedule their next appointment.
It is possible for service departments to overcome the stigma of distrust, but it’s not as simple as having personable advisors. Create processes that make the customer feel informed and comfortable to build trust and gain repeat business.
About the Author
Jeff Adams is a Product Planning manager for Service applications at Reynolds and Reynolds.