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Jason Unrau

Jason Unrau Freelance Contributor

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Create a Cohesive COVID Service Message

Dealers did a fantastic job of communicating in-store strategies when the pandemic struck, particularly for fixed operations visits. Websites were updated with banners indicating the precautions staff were taking to keep customers safe. Hours were changed to reflect any differences customers should expect.

But have you looked at it since?

If you’re a dealer that’s stayed on top of the COVID messaging on your website, hats off to you. Unfortunately, there are many stores that haven’t been as diligent at it. The yellow banner across the top from March may no longer have accurate information, but there are going to be customers seeing it for the first time.

That’s particularly important for the service department where they might be seeing a customer for the second or third time since the pandemic started. That’s not to say it isn’t crucial for sales or parts – it’s just probably not as frequently accessed for those customers. In any case, keeping your website message updated is an important task.

Is it Really That Important?

Consider this: a new customer wants to know if your hours are the same today as they were in February before all the shutdowns happened. When they consult your banner, they see a message saying your Express Lane is only operating Monday through Friday from 8 to 5, so they take off work early one day to get there. But when they arrive, they discover that Monday and Tuesday evenings the Express Lane is open again, and Saturdays too. They’re now irritated that they took time off work when they didn’t have to.

That’s one example, and you can expound on it for sales and all the other departments. You could seriously upset customers by having incorrect information on your website.

How to Address Your COVID Messaging

As limited as resources can be at times, your COVID approach is time-sensitive. It has to be updated whenever changes are made, and it should be across all channels.

Dealer Website

The obvious changes are on the website. Update your banner to include any recent changes to your COVID policies, not to mention any service expectations the customer might experience. It can be helpful to date when the page or banner was changed last so customers don’t wonder how old the message is. And while you’re at it, why not update your staff lists to accurately reflect who’s still available in the store?

Google and Yelp

Often, customers are accessing your service department’s hours on Google or Yelp. Make sure any channels that direct customers to your location have the right hours of operation listed.

The BDC

Unfortunately, the BDC is often one of the last departments to know when changes happen. Make sure you communicate COVID updates with your team in the BDC so any inbound and outbound callers get the right info. No one wants an appointment booked after hours, right?

Create Videos

There’s a ton of value in creating short videos to display on the website to tell customers what you’re doing in the service drive and in the shop to keep them safe. Here’s where you can say who will be wearing masks, if masks are mandatory, and what safety measures are implemented. Again, make sure the video is updated whenever changes happen in the dealership.

 

The resiliency and adaptability of the auto industry is amazing. Dealers have been doing a great job so far, and ensuring COVID information is updated only serves to improve the customer experience and build trust.

Morgan Hardy

Out of curiosity, I've reached out to some other dealerships to see what they're offering in their service department due to COVID and have gotten nowhere. I'm actually disappointed- I don't know anyone personally that works at any of these dealers or I would say bring it to their attention. 

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