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Invest in the Tools & Training to Better Manage the Customer Experience

In a recent column, I talked about the many benefits of going all-in on digital inspections for your service center, noting the benefits in repeat business, higher AROs and, ultimately, customer loyalty. But as any technician knows, having the proper tools is worthless if you don’t use them — or fully exploit their potential.

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So now I’d like to drill down on how to ensure your service operation is reaping the maximum benefit from your investment in digital. Not doing so is like spending $60,000 or $80,000 on an alignment machine, then not recommending any alignments. By making sure your advisors are fully trained in your front-end technology, you can make certain you’re getting the best possible ROI. 

Taking advantage of reporting, and reviewing those reports, is the key to success. One of the main benefits of digital vehicle inspection reports is the ability of the software to log every service recommendation — for purposes of follow-up, future appointment setting and sales tracking. There’s no need for a human to input what you’ve told customers, what they’ve approved and what they’ve deferred until later. 

As a result, management can easily see which services are being sold, which advisors are pushing them and which are being scheduled. In addition to knowing whether advisors are doing their job well or not, this insight allows you to see what services might need more emphasis or which ones are taking up too much bay time for too little profit. 

Because you’re putting recommendations out there, this is your opportunity to embed longer-term issues in customers’ minds. Drivers hate surprises. Most vehicle owners don’t have $900 lying around to drop on four new tires because your technician shows them they can see the top of Lincoln’s head. However, if you advise them a few months before, when Honest Abe’s tresses are still hidden but just starting to peek out, they’ll be more mentally and financially prepared to replace that rubber during their next visit. You’ve also created trust by not pushing the hard sell during the initial appointment. 

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Tracking customer interactions also lets you ensure digital inspections are being provided in the first place. If the advisor doesn’t send the report to the customer or bring it to their attention, what’s the point of even doing it? You’ll want to see a send rate of at least 80%, and at least that rate of opens by drivers. 

Finally, tracking allows you to see if your techs are fully utilizing digital’s multimedia capability. As I noted last time, people are highly visual, and what we see is the prime driver of purchase decisions. Amazon has built an empire on this idea. So, send pictures, and lots of them! Dirty or clogged parts, worn pads, cracking belts, safety hazards, rusted components…you get the idea. Our research has found that 12-14 photos sent to the customer significantly moves the needle in terms of average repair orders (AROs). Indeed, AROs can climb up to 39% when vehicle owners can view multiple photos on their mobile device. 

Your software’s dashboard should give you a complete overview of how well your operation is exploiting its technology. With a few clicks, you should be able to run reports showing how many digital vehicle inspections were sent, the number of photos that were sent, the number of lube stickers that were printed, whether automatic reminders are going out, how many appointments have been scheduled, how technicians are spending their time, repair order totals, top customers by dollars spent and a range of other parameters, within a selected time frame. Learn to use these reports and look at them regularly. 

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Every job that comes into the shop and every job that goes out has to cross your advisor’s desk. Make sure they don’t just have the latest tools to manage the customer experience, but the training and impetus to fully use them. Only then can digital vehicle inspections become a robust part of your sales arsenal.

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