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Jason Unrau

Jason Unrau Freelance Contributor

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Improving Service CX – What Do Customers Want?

We know that customers want the dealership experience to improve, and that’s definitely true for the service experience. The quest to make service absorption reach 100% or higher has become the focus for many stores due to a sales climate that’s cooling a little. But one thing remains more important than selling any amount of service, and that’s customer satisfaction.

The customer experience (CX) in the service department is fickle at best. Honestly, who can say they enjoy taking their car to the dealer to spend time and money on repairs and maintenance? Service advisors have a huge job to do in making that experience remarkable for customer and, largely, they’re successful.

There’s still plenty of room to improve service CX. We know that’s true because two out of three customers aren’t sticking around once their warranty expires. And if dealers want to retain customers better, an area to target is the customer experience in the service department.

What Are the Pain Points for Customers?

We aren’t going to get into solutions today, but set up the places where customers have identified frustration with servicing their vehicles. There are five areas highlighted in the 2018 Cox Automotive Service Industry Study, although there are certainly more.

“Service Took Longer than Expected”

Of those who identified a frustration with the service department, 30 percent said it was that their service visit took longer than expected. It isn’t that the service took a long time, but longer than expected. The service advisor or appointment setter failed to prepare the customer in advance for the time it would take to complete their vehicle.

“Tried to Push Additional Services”

Advising customers on necessary maintenance and repairs is one thing, but 20 percent of service customers at dealerships thought they were unnecessarily being upsold. This could be one of two things: appointments being set without properly identifying required maintenance prior to the visit, or service advisors that aren’t selling properly. It could be as simple as the language was, “you also need X, and it’s $$$” rather than, “according to your owner’s manual, it’s time to do X. It will keep your car’s Y operating as it should until the next interval.”

“Had an Appointment But Waited in Line”

13 percent of frustrated service customers had this concern. Unfortunately, this concern is tough to address because of human nature. Especially at opening. I always found that the majority of customers wanted an appointment first thing in the morning. If the first appointment wasn’t available, it was common for customers to arrive when the doors opened and drop off their vehicle early.

In the coming weeks, we’ll look at potential solutions to waiting in line.

“Finding Out How Much They Charge”

Dealers, if you are in line with other service providers locally, there’s absolutely no reason to withhold prices. 10 percent of service customers are frustrated with trying to find service pricing. It’s a reason that customers lose trust in the dealership – lack of transparency.

“Did Not Provide a Loaner Vehicle”

Another 10 percent of frustrated service customers cite lack of loaner vehicles as their concern. That’s not the core issue here, though. In many cases, it reverts back to the top problem – service takes longer than expected – where customers are stranded without a vehicle. Promised times need to be adjusted realistically and customers need to be told openly how their vehicle is progressing, and that’s an area that’s often lacking.


Service managers and service advisors, I promise it’s not all bad news. In general, the service CX has been getting much better. Over the next few weeks, we’ll explore ways that we can improve CX further so more customers keep coming back, even after their warranty is up.

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