Consumer demands and expectations seem to be changing more rapidly than ever. And of course, right now at the dealership, this happens to coincide with a chip shortage, labor shortage, increased competition, and beyond. In yet another unusual turn of events, dealership profits are skyrocketing because of these issues. But as customers grow impatient with longer than usual wait times to bring their vehicle in for service, you could inadvertently damage their loyalty to your business.
With so many issues compounding the difficulty of improving customer satisfaction, what is the most important thing you can do for your customers right now? Below, we’ll explore how you can build a customer experience that attracts and caters to the unique needs of today’s consumers.
Understand Today’s Customer Needs
It’s everywhere you go—people are glued to their phones for a multitude of reasons. They might be checking the weather, finding directions, or taking advantage of convenient services that have increasingly become standard in modern-day business experiences. As we’ve seen with apps like Grubhub for meal delivery, Instacart for grocery delivery, and even more recently curbside pickup options at big box stores like Target, consumers are expecting seamless digital options wherever they do business.
Adding to that, customers are still looking for safe, reliable services as the U.S. continues to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Touchless service options became more relevant than ever in early 2020, as businesses had to shift their models to meet the varying levels of comfort with in-store activity. But the signs were pointing to this shift in consumer behavior long before the pandemic. Convenience continues to prevail above all, and with that, your service lane operations need to follow suit.
Deliver Easy and Familiar Experiences in the Service Lane
Recently reported in Affinitiv’s latest Industry Trends Guide, appointment lead times are steadily on the rise. More consumers are holding on to their vehicles longer to avoid purchasing at an outrageously high price, and as a result, fixed ops capacity has failed to keep pace with the influx of appointments.
And while longer appoint lead times may be unavoidable right now, dealerships still need to prioritize easy, familiar experiences that the customer is looking for, anywhere they do business.
The first step a dealership can take to incorporate more familiar technology—that can also help speed up transaction times—is to implement better, more efficient communication. By adding text message communications, also known as SMS (Short Message Service), dealerships can contact customers in a way they are used to being contacted. Plus, texts have a nearly 98% open rate and are usually responded to within 1-5 minutes after receiving. By sending updates for approval that include photos or videos, dealers can even build trust through added transparency with the customer by showing them any services recommended before proceeding. Further benefitting both the customer and the dealership, this technology also helps by minimizing downtime during that vehicle’s service and cutting down customer wait time overall.
In the spirit of including more time-saving options in your service lane experience, you should consider varying customer preferences when it comes to bringing their vehicle to the dealership. Technology has come a long way, and pickup, delivery, and mobile mechanic services will soon be a standard offering—it’s better to get on board now and be the first to offer services that differentiate you from the competition. As popular rideshare and food delivery apps have become more commonplace, customers are better positioned to immediately understand this type of user experience and navigate with ease. Driver tracking, status updates, and messaging options are key to ensuring the success of this experience, only enhancing the appreciation from this customer base. And to make this added technology even more worthy of dealer adoption, customers may feel less concerned with longer wait times for service knowing their vehicle will be taken care of without the hassle of rearranging their schedules. And that means more opportunities for loyalty and retention.
One thing is clear—the automotive industry is changing and for dealerships to survive, the right technology is going to be vital for continued growth. Listen to your customers, understand their needs, and create a user experience that keeps them coming back to your dealership. As the industry evolves—even amidst some of the most extreme challenges we’ve seen to date—give your dealership and your team the tools to not only survive today, but thrive tomorrow.
Ready to up your service lane game? Affinitiv’s experts are ready to help drive new and repeat business your way. Contact us today for a consultation.
All | November 10, 2021