Speed Up Service Lane Traffic & Build Loyalty (Despite Industry Challenges)

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Service Department Tips for Modern-Day Problems

The automotive industry today is starting to feel like a modern-day Wild West, so the last thing on your mind at the dealership might be how to optimize your service lane operations—it’s likely focused on powering through. But with a labor shortage, increased competition, longer appointment lead times, and a chip shortage that just won’t quit, it’s worth taking a second look. 

While many dealers are enjoying increased profitability from the culmination of current events, their customer loyalty may be at risk. When the shortages end and we return to a new but more familiar state of business, who are your customers going to choose? With no foreseeable end to the chip shortage in sight, now is the time to optimize your dealership’s Service Department to maximize operational efficiency and set the stage for loyalty longevity. Below, we’ll address a few key ways to help your dealership provide a world-class experience—despite industry challenges—that keeps your customers coming back.

Start Strong with Every Service Visit 

It should come as no surprise that we would begin in the same place your customer does upon arrival to the service lane: vehicle check-in. Customer satisfaction metrics have shown that the meet and greet is an important part of the customer’s visit, as it’s your first chance to set expectations for how you’ll do business. To make conversations easier with the customer, it is vital for the service advisor to have vehicle history and more at their fingertips to discuss or address specific concerns. 

Starting with the initial check-in, make sure your service team is equipped with a best-in-class application that ensures smooth transitions across every stage. The right technology should help you capture declined repairs, navigate factory maintenance plans, and document pre-existing conditions, all from one place, enabling your team to easily roll appointments into an RO.  

While you may be comfortable with your existing workflow, failing to implement the right technology into your process may be a vital misstep. You may find that the right tool is able to match your existing workflow while still perfecting your operations. Support your customers with an experience that connects all the way through, starting at check-in. As your overall operations also improve, your team will thank you, too. 

Curate Your Service Drive Communications 

To avoid too little or too much communication, prioritize when and how you communicate with your auto service customers. This may seem like a given, but how often do you and your team take a giant step back and look at the overall efficacy of your service lane communications? Right now, it’s a good time to examine how effective or ineffective your communications strategy might be. 

Start by putting yourself in the customer’s shoes. You work with them every day, so you already know where there are strengths and weaknesses in your process. But to see things from their vantage point, start to map out each step of their experience and the communications that follow. From the moment the customer books the appointment, to the inspection that’s in progress, to completing their payment for services, you should be providing updates along the way.  If you’ve mapped out these steps and found you haven’t covered communications at each stage of service, begin by filling those gaps. 

Equally important to when you communicate is how you communicate. With competition looming and loyalty in the balance, make small changes that differentiate your dealership and create a better user experience. Video has become increasingly more important to connect with customers through advertising and even on your VDPs. Consider stretching this idea over to your customer’s service lane experience and text mid-inspection video updates for approval on recommended services. 

Providing the right type of communication at the right time not only provides trust and transparency, it also helps move along service lane traffic faster than placing phone calls that are more likely to be missed. According to a poll from ZipWhip, a whopping 97% of consumers reportedly rejected or ignored calls from a business or unknown number, meaning it’s time to level up your text game. Small changes can often have the biggest impact on your bottom line. In this case, they also create reasons for your customer to return. 

Evolve with Changing Customer Needs 

There are tools available that can change your fixed operations processes for the better, and in ways you may have never imagined. By tailoring the customer experience with personalized vehicle information from the beginning, and providing transparent updates along the way, your customers will trust you as their auto service provider. Give your customers an unmatched experience that creates higher satisfaction, and you’ll see improved retention. 

While the current surge in profitability has been sweet, it’s not necessarily sustainable.  By continuing to reexamine your Service Department’s needs, especially during uncertain times, you’ll also keep an edge over the competition. Only change is constant, so be prepared to evolve as your customers do. Match your Service Department’s needs with ongoing evaluations of how to best serve your customers. They are, after all, what drives your business. 

Take action now! Set your service department up for long-term success with Affinitiv on your side. Reach out today for an expert consultation. 

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