Put a Call Team Behind Your Recall Business

Service | February 25, 2021

Author: Graham Annett, VP of Marketing Operations

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As the Takata recall alone grows to include 63 million airbags from more than 42 million vehicles in the U.S., recall work presents a great opportunity for dealers in the world of fixed ops. Treated properly, recalls can consistently help dealers increase retention and capture more business as they reach out to customers and guide them in for this free service.  

For starters, recalls give your store a chance to engage customers and earn their loyalty, regardless of the last time they visited your service lane. And contrary to popular belief, free recall work can actually make these customers more likely to spend money. This is not a new finding: the J.D. Power 2015 Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) Survey℠ found that the average dollar total service spend for customers who have additional recommended work done at a dealership is $277, compared with $171 for those who do not have the added work done.  

So, what’s the secret? Instead of thinking of recall service as an opportunity for a few extra dollars from your OEM, think of it as a chance to drive more dollars per RO. Combine that with the help of an expert call team, and you’re on your way to maintaining a profitable recall strategy. The right call center solution will give you most of the resources you need to start realizing the potential recall service brings to your store.    

Timely Recall Engagement 

Chris Sutton, Vice President of Automotive Retail at J.D. Power says, “Even though recalls can create a large influx of customers into the service department and really strain capacity, […] manufacturers have shown that it is possible to turn a potential negative into a positive when it comes to recalls if they’re done in a way that doesn’t inconvenience the customer.” To ensure you’re providing that positive impact from the very start, it’s important to follow up with your customers as soon as your store becomes aware of their vehicle’s open recall. Providing a consistent, personalized experience for all your recall customers isn’t always easy—but a professional call center can do the heavy lifting. As recall lists come from your OEM, the right call team can clean those lists and immediately communicate a customer’s specific recall over the phone. With a strong background in customer service and phone etiquette, a dedicated call center will provide instant communication, a friendly approach, and detailed recall information that builds trust and increases CSI from the get-go. An expert call team increases your reach, too: many agents can engage your competitor’s customers with outstanding recall work and get in touch with those your OEM let slip through the cracks as well. 

Besides connecting with customers to remind them of their recall, call centers can also keep your staff free from the phones by answering inbound calls regarding these questions. After confirming the customer’s information in your system, agents will update any details as needed during the conversation—and provide more specifics on the recall(s) issued.  

When it comes to transparency and customer satisfaction, having a call team support your recall business is especially smart today. According to the J.D. Power 2020 Customer Service Index (CSI) Study℠, dealers are successfully completing work 94% of the time. But in general, 20% of the work that isn’t completed the first time is due to parts being unavailable, which can be frustrating for customers. Because of the pandemic and subsequent parts supplier shutdowns, this 20% could dramatically increase and affect your recall work. Keeping owners informed both on their recall and the current availability of parts for the recall is crucial to ensuring customers have the right expectations up front.  

Business Beyond the Recall  

While on the phone with customers, not only can call agents book an appointment for free recall service, but they can also ask about any additional service needed. With the right integrations into your scheduler, a call center agent can see if that customer’s vehicle is due for additional maintenance or if they declined any repairs during their last visit. So, if a recall customer needs an oil change and an engine air filter replacement within the next 1,000 miles, a call center can identify the need and upsell the customer on those services early, saving another trip in the coming weeks.  

Call agents can further establish relationships and expectations by reinforcing your amenities on the call. Some dealerships try to get through recall work as quickly as possible, limiting the otherwise prevalent benefits of servicing with them. And those benefits make an impact: the J.D Power 2020 CSI Study showed that simply returning a vehicle to a customer in cleaner condition than when it was brought in can increase satisfaction scores by 31 points. So, if free car washes following service are a perk of your store, that perk should be carried over to recall appointments—and mentioned to the customer, too.  

The reality is COVID-19 has caused an unprecedented blow to the market. And although Edmunds analysts have noticed new vehicle sales begin to recover, there is still a 15.5% decrease in new vehicle sales from 2019. It makes sense that dealers have shifted their focus from sales to service in order to maintain their business. But so have many others, making awareness of your store’s differentiators all the more important.  

A professional call center can handle inbound and outbound recall communications on behalf of your store, but they can also function as a natural extension of your team to help you meet your goals. By opening up that line of communication with customers in a personalized conversation—and guiding your team to put equal focus on recall work as they would on high-paying ROs—retaining current customers and bringing in new ones is simple. The call encouraging free recall work is only the beginning. 


Interested in learning more? Affinitiv’s Call Center will drive sales and service appointments, customer satisfaction, and, ultimately, profit.

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