Using Data to Improve the Customer Experience

A great customer experience is everything.

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When we think of using customer data, it’s often in the context of marketing. I’ve written previously on how data can be used to drive action and build better relationships with customers by sending them the right message on the right channel at the right time.

But customer data has another important use that’s underutilized in dealerships. When a service appointment is scheduled, data can and should be used to create a better experience for that customer.

What role does data play in the service lane?

Think about the steps your customers take to get their vehicles serviced. Each step coincides with a service department process.

Schedule > write > inspect > track > retain

If you provide a stellar customer experience, the cycle will repeat.

When your service lane technology solutions are integrated with your marketing platform, data can be collected and used at every step to educate your employees and help them better meet the customer’s needs. Here’s an example.


Customer Catie is on Facebook one day and sees a notice in her newsfeed that her vehicle is due for a brake job. Coincidentally, her brakes have been squeaking lately, so she knows it’s probably time. Fortunately, the dealership’s notice includes an offer for $50 off. When she clicks on the offer, she is taken directly to an online scheduler, where she can choose a day and time for her service.

While scheduling her appointment, Catie sees another offer for an oil change, and realizes her vehicle could use on of those, too. Best of all, she sees an offer for a free loaner car, which she really appreciates because she has no other way to get to work. She clicks on both those offers and into the scheduler they go.

The offers that Catie sees when she’s using the online scheduler are not there by accident. Those offers don’t show up for everyone. The offers are generated for Catie based on data from her customer profile, her past service experiences and vehicle needs.

Already, Catie is happy. She’s getting discounts for her brake job, oil change and a free loaner car!


When Catie arrives in the service lane, she is greeted by an advisor. During the write-up process, the advisor checks for recalls and “Vehicle like mine” recommendations. Based on the VIN, he sees that a recall has been issued for the vehicle’s airbags. He asks Catie to approve the replacement, and she does. The advisor then offers Catie a cup of coffee, which she gratefully accepts. A valet runs to get it for her while she gets into her loaner car.


Catie drives to work. As she settles down at her desk, she receives a text from the dealership. During the vehicle inspection, it was discovered that the rubber seal on her fuel cap is worn and needs to be replaced.

At first, Catie’s annoyed because she thinks she’s being taken advantage of. But the text came with a video attached, so she plays the video and sees that the seal does indeed look frayed on one edge. She texts her approval back to the dealership.


Late that afternoon, Catie receives another text. Her vehicle is ready for pickup. When she returns to the dealership after work, the service advisor tells her that her rotors are beginning to wear and should be replaced, but it’s not urgent. He also shows Catie that her tire treads are starting to wear, but they should still be good for another 10,000 miles.

Catie declines to have her rotors replaced but makes a mental note. She knows her car is getting up there in mileage, so she’ll have to start putting aside some money for these repairs.

Catie’s in a hurry because she needs to pick up her daughter from soccer practice. The advisor tells her about a mobile pay option. Catie is thrilled. Last time she waited at the cashier for fifteen minutes. Today, all she has to do is sign on the mobile tablet and she’s free to go!


The next day, Catie receives a message thanking her for her business, along with a customer survey. She fills out the survey and gives the dealership a high rating. After all, she got two discounts, a free loaner car, and most important, she felt that the service advisor respected her busy schedule. She also appreciates being forewarned about upcoming repairs, so she can budget for them.

Several times in the next six months, Catie receives reminders that she declined the brake rotor repair and that she should bring her vehicle in. But her brakes seem fine and she’s busy, so she puts it off.

A couple months later, Catie receives a special offer for a discount on new tires. In the last newsletter that the dealership sent her, she read an article about tire safety. Winter’s coming, and Catie decides that she should go ahead and purchase the new tires. While she’s at it, she’ll get the brake rotor repair.

She logs into the dealership’s online scheduler, and sure enough she sees another offer for a free loaner car. Sweet! She schedules another appointment.

In this scenario, you can see how using data helps to improve Catie’s customer experience.

Catie has a demanding career and is a busy mom, so a mobile check-in and check-out process limits the time she has to spend at the dealership. Because she’s a loyal, repeat customer, the dealership offers her a free loaner car with every service. Although Catie loves to save money whenever possible, convenience and trust are more important to her than whether she can save twenty dollars somewhere else. Besides, she doesn’t have time to shop around for quotes.

No matter which advisor services Catie when she returns, that person will have the data available at their fingertips to provide Catie with an experience and messaging consistent with her last visit.

Using data in the service lane can help your employees connect the dots so they can provide your customers with a better experience. The more you know about your customers and their vehicle needs, the better you can meet their expectations.

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