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Jason Unrau

Jason Unrau Freelance Contributor

Exclusive Blog Posts

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Improving Service CX – “Had an Appointment but Waited in Line”

Very few things are more frustrated than feeling like your time has been wasted. Think about something as routine as going through a fast food drive thru because you’re on a short leash, only to be left waiting for your meal at the pickup window for seven minutes unacknowledged (I’ve been there). A customer’s irritation is much the same when they’ve gone through the processes to expediate their in-dealership visit, then to stand in line in the service drive.

Online appointments have made booking a maintenance or repair visit much easier. Time slots are typically in 10-minute intervals to space them out. The BDC and service advisors are personally invested in accurate appointment booking. So why is it that waiting in line after making an appointment is still the primary pain point for 13 percent of annoyed customers?

Poor Planning

I’m convinced that probably half – maybe more – of the issue lies with people booking appointments. I recall often as a service advisor that a ‘gravy’ appointment wanted an booking for first thing in the morning when all the time slots were already filled, but I’d jam it in anyway so I’d be able to earn more that day. Other times, it seemed like someone booked an appointment simply to get the customer off the phone, stacking the schedule at a particular time that was super inconvenient. And then there are the walk-ins…

Of course, the result is an influx of appointment check-ins that can’t be handled at once. Someone is going to be waiting.

The Human Factor

Tell me if I’m wrong… an appointment time never seems to be hard and fast anymore. Once they’ve made an appointment, the customer thinks it’s fine to drop the car off whenever they can. Hours early, a half hour late – as long as they’re scheduled for that day, it should be cool.

I encountered it almost daily. 10am appointments dropping off their car at the 7am opening rush. Usually, more than one per day. Their intentions are innocent, perhaps trying to grab the first shuttle to work. Nonetheless, it made for hectic mornings at the service desk with several people tapping their toes impatiently.

What to Do About It

This problem will never go away as long as there are customers. But you can improve this facet of the service customer experience in a few ways:

  • - Schedule appointments at slightly unusual times. Rather than booking on the hour or at the half, book in 12-minute increments. Not only does it allow 12 minutes for a service advisor to write up an RO which should be plenty, but the time will stick out in a customer’s head. When you say, “Mr. Rodriguez, I have you booked in for 8:36 tomorrow morning. See you then,” you can picture their head cocking to the side as the time registers. “8:36? Why such a precise time?” 
  • - In busy times, the service manager and valets can pick up the slack by helping with walkarounds. If there are customers waiting to check in, someone can pick up a clipboard with a walkaround checklist, greet the customer, and engage them with a walkaround. Once the service advisor is free, they can inject themselves into the conversation. That should easily eliminate the concern about waiting in line despite an appointment.
  • - Look into self-serve service kiosks. The jury is out on their use, but it’s an option to serve your non-appointment or early customers, especially those who would prefer to drop off before hours or pickup after hours. If you use kiosks, make sure you communicate very well throughout the day with those clients.

Do you have any other ideas to address the concern, “had an appointment but waited in line”? Leave a comment below.

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