By Shane Skinner, Co-Founder and CEO of Record360
In today’s CSI score-centric dealership environments, being on top of customer satisfaction and demands can be the difference between a revenue-bursting year — or a year of revenue declines. But staying ahead of the competition is difficult when you’re trying to keep costs in check and have limited funds at your disposal.
These concerns were at the heart of the recent Dealership Service Center Report, conducted by Record360. Featuring responses from more than 500 respondents who used a dealership’s service center in the past year, the survey unearthed what’s at the heart of customers choosing their dealership’s service center versus other options and the factors that likely lead to customers no longer visiting at all. Perhaps more importantly, the survey sheds light on what dealerships can do today to improve customer satisfaction, earn repeat visits and boost their bottom lines.
WHAT’S HOLDING BACK REPEAT VISITS
It’s all too easy to blame warranty expiration as the core reason for customers visiting other businesses for their vehicle maintenance. Yet research points to other culprits that are well within a dealer’s ability to control.
Lack of Transparency Around the Service Experience — A major surprise arose when respondents shared all the reasons for not bringing their vehicle to the dealership for maintenance. Approximately 37 percent of all respondents said that not knowing how much the service will cost is a huge factor. Meanwhile, 32 percent cited how long it takes to complete the service as an underlying factor for going elsewhere.
It’s certainly not difficult to offer price transparency. Nor would it be difficult to offer better estimates around service times. Yet customer feedback is telling us that dealers are not taking these very simple steps to improve their customers’ experience.
Misplaced Perceptions Are Hurting You — One of the worst ways to lose business and customer trust is to let them think you did something wrong — and yet it seems that could very well be happening. While we certainly know that vehicles are brought in with dings and dents, 75 percent of customers would stop visiting their dealer if they thought the dealer was at fault. Meanwhile, 80 percent would no longer visit if they thought an item went missing from for vehicles during their last visit.
Because customers may not fully understand the condition of their vehicles prior to their visit, they could easily blame the service drive for damage they never caused. Similarly, customers may have taken an item out of their vehicle prior to their service visit. But if they don’t remember, dealers could be blamed. With better condition reviews at the start of every service drive visit, these issues could be nipped in the bud immediately.
SERVICES YOUR CUSTOMERS WANT
Just as service drive customers are open to sharing what leads them to go elsewhere for vehicle maintenance, they are just as open to sharing what services they’d like to see from their dealers:
●Easier Appointment Setting: Approximately 45 percent of survey respondents asked for online scheduling and appointment reminders by email. At a time when most service businesses are going digital, customers are asking the same of their dealerships.
●Vehicle Condition Reports: About 41 percent of service drive customers want a record of the vehicle condition. The best part about this is that taking photos and videos of vehicle condition gives customers what they want and it prevents misplaced perceptions that your business caused vehicular damage or allowed items to go missing.
These requests, coupled with a desire for live chat and “ask a tech” online portals, show us that service drive customers are looking for dealerships to stay up-to-speed with tech innovations. No one wants to patronize a service drive that runs its business like a dinosaur. Responding to these requests will go a long way to showing customers you’re committed to offering best-in-class service and vehicle maintenance, and go a long way to getting them to come back for their next service visit.