From the sun-soaked east side of Hawaii’s Big Island, I have the pleasure of writing about the preferred customer experience. And what doesn’t seem to be a congruent thought has actually given me clarity on what the customer experience should be like in the service department. Either that, or it’s sunstroke…
It struck me while driving our rental vehicle down Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway toward the beautiful sands of Mauna Kea beach. I had no idea when the year-old Hyundai Santa Fe had last received its oil change. I had signed the contract and taken the keys without a second thought. Off we went, racking up hundreds of miles, trusting that our rental would be reliable and our travels uninhibited by a service reminder for the two weeks we were in the rental.
Just like our rental car, customers want to know their service provider is trustworthy. In our case, it’s Enterprise Car Rental, but for your customers, it’s YOU. There is zero room for negative experiences or comeback repairs, nor phones or emails unanswered in a timely fashion. Your customer should be able to have the extremely high standard of service that we all demand from other industries, and any failure to deliver as such damages their ability to fully trust your service department.
That means confirming the details of the work order every time, always road testing after repairs, and performing consistent quality checks. At every stage, strive to build trust through accuracy and transparency.
Honestly, if a customer could own a vehicle and never notice that had been serviced, it would be ideal. Since that’s not possible, the goal should be to minimize the impact servicing their vehicle has on their life. Convenient hours are a good start, but there’s much more that can be done.
Offering pickup and drop-off services might be the most popular trend for the service industry, especially paired with a loaner vehicle. It tells customers exactly how much you understand the value of their time. That’s a far cry from the not-so-distant past where we in the service industry believed customers should be happy to come to see us in the service drive, then wait around or find their own ride.
Making the service experience convenient so it doesn’t interrupt their life will undoubtedly increase customer loyalty.
There will always be outliers who want to do their own maintenance and repairs, and those who want detailed explanations for every miniscule warranty repair or scheduled service item. The vast majority are fine just knowing their vehicle is up to date.
Here’s where premium manufacturers like BMW, Genesis, Jaguar, and Volvo have it right to some extent. Regular maintenance is covered for two or three years from the date of purchase, and that’s a load off the customer’s shoulders. It’s also an opportunity for other manufacturers – or dealers themselves – to offer premium service to all of their customers.
For either a monthly/annual fee or a cost included with the price of the vehicle, complete vehicle maintenance can be included. We’re talking everything from oil changes and wheel alignments to tire replacement and timing belt changes. Within reason, I’m led to believe that customers would embrace this type of service model to eliminate surprise invoices. It helps with points one and two also: a trustworthy service experience and the best in convenience.
Look, I understand that it’s impossible to change directions on a dime, and for many dealers, these three things are massive undertakings to implement. The spirit of them, however, can be integrated into what you’re doing now. Provide the most convenient service possible for each and every customer and make it as convenient as you can. If they’re anything like me, that’s what they want most.