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Jared Hamilton
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Jason Unrau

Jason Unrau Freelance Contributor

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Why Customers Think Your Efficient Service Process is Inefficient

No matter what industry you look at, there are things we’d change as a customer. For the health care field, the wait time to see your doctor wouldn’t be as long (and they’d be on time for appointments!) For the food service industry, the kitchen would only use fresh ingredients instead of pre-prepared or frozen.

It’s probably safe to assume that all of us here are in the automotive industry. We think we’ve done a pretty good job of increasing efficiency for the customer, specifically for the service department. The customer can book an appointment online, there’s an option to wait for your vehicle or take transportation home or to work, and the workflow through the shop has become as streamlined as possible.

But that’s streamlined for us, not the customer.

Both firsthand and anecdotally, the service process isn’t as customer friendly as we think it might be. Just like all other industries, customers find flaws (often, MANY flaws) in how dealerships operate their service departments.

Online Appointments

It’s become an industry standard to offer an online appointment calendar. Customers can choose the services they think they need, pick a convenient time, and bring their vehicle in. But it’s never that smooth, is it?

Think about it from the customer’s perspective. You’ve booked an appointment online and arrive precisely on time. You’re met with a busy service drive and a 10-minute wait to see your service advisor. The advisor then reviews your appointment details and performs a walkaround (hopefully). Then, you’re given your quote for the services requested, and you’re on your way.

Doesn’t sound bad, but the customer sees:

  • An inconvenient wait when they arrive for an appointment time.
  • Duplication between their online request and the advisor’s review and upsells.
  • Often a different estimate between the online booking and the in-person visit.

In today’s world of ‘omni-experience’, I’ve yet to see an online appointment scheduler that mimics the in-dealership’s experience and pricing. It’s inconsistent, and that damages trust.

And this is just one facet. We could talk about how your workflow through the shop isn’t customer-centric or why someone from a call center might be performing follow-up calls instead of in-dealership staff. Customers don’t view it as efficient.

Making Processes More Efficient for the Customer

So, let’s take a look at how a customer’s online appointment might serve them better.

Before the Visit

Online appointment forms typically do alright to suggest required services…for the current mileage. They assume maintenance and repairs are up to date and that there aren’t any declined services. Aside from a walkaround, this is where an advisor would need to upsell.

For online appointments, have a service advisor – or well-trained BDC member – contact the customer to check up on any declined services. State the quote they’ve received online for consistency. Then there’s less time spent in dealership when they check in for their appointment.

At Check-In

Have a ‘fast lane’ for online appointments. There’s no need to review the work order requests unless there are add-ons by the customer. Have a pre-work order ready for a signature once the mileage is recorded. And once again, review the pricing from the online appointment, plus any potential add-ons.

The Walkaround

One step that can’t be skipped or trimmed: the walkaround. You’re building trust in this stage by showing thoroughness and consistency by performing a walkaround every time. After a 90-second walkaround, the customer is ready to go.

When Service is Complete

When the vehicle has been completed in the shop and the customer is informed (with their desired method of communication), review the work completed and re-state the price they were first quoted along with the final price if there were any additional services or repairs. When a customer has heard the same pricing consistently between the online appointment and vehicle pickup, even if there have been changes, it builds trust.


These facets all increase efficiency for a customer, and we’ll look at others in the coming weeks. You might find they cost your service department in additional staffing. But if a customer-centric omni-experience is what you truly want to offer, start asking questions from the customer’s perspective.

Missy Zalinger

Are you going to be posting more along this topic ? If so I am highly eager to read them!

Jason Unrau

Hi Missy, I'll be posting more content like this over the next couple weeks. Stay tuned!

Missy Zalinger

Can’t wait! Looking forward to them!

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