Maximize Customer Experience to Maximize Business Potential

Maximize Your Customer Experience to Maximize Your Business Potential

If you’re in charge of your dealership’s fixed ops department, time is not just money, it is also the road to a better customer experience.

Are you giving your customers the experience they want?

One of America’s founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin, was no slouch when it came to capturing a basic truth in a few words. In 1748 in his essay “Advice to a Young Tradesman,” he gave us this mantra: Time is money.

Today, in 2023 America, those three words still ring true. But if you’re in charge of your dealership’s fixed ops department, time is not just money, it is also the road to a better customer experience. And in the long run, that experience is what matters most.

I’ve identified six “way stations” during the service customer’s typical journey, where you have a chance to maximize the customer experience: Phones; Pickup & Delivery; Lane Experience; Text Updates; Mobile Payments; and Next Appointments.

Action: Ask your team where you stand now, what is your potential and how do we get there?

The Phones

A customer’s journey most often begins with a phone call: 70% of ROs start there. We know that three-quarters of the calls into a dealership are service calls. But all calls are not equal. In fact, all phone calls don’t even make a connection. It’s estimated that 20-25% of calls to a dealership’s service department are missed. And the ones that connect are often frustrated with long hold times.

The math is scary. If your average RO is $350 and you miss five to 10 calls a day, you’re losing money and customers. In terms of revenue alone, just three missed calls a day can mean your dealership is losing out on an additional 23k a month. Remember, this is where your BDC solution starts: on the phones.

Action: Invest in your BDC staff through additional best practices training and on-going mentoring.

Pickup and Delivery

Customers will pay for an enhanced experience. We see that with Amazon Prime, for example, or Walmart Plus. Membership has its privileges. For vehicle service departments, it can be a customer privilege such as your team picking up their car for service and delivering it back to the customer.

Action: Don’t be intimated. Be prepared to find out what the customer wants and deal with any mistakes later.

The Lane Experience

Do you know what happens when your advisors no longer have to juggle phone calls? They have more time to spend with customers. The Return on Time (ROT) saved is a half-hour per repair order. This means your advisors have more time to upsell, listen to customers, load your shop with appointments and update customer information.

Action: Give your advisors more time to interact with customers and less time dealing with phone calls and other distractions.

Text Updates w/AI

Whether because of their busy schedule or a concern about privacy, people over 50 prefer not to pick up a phone. Yet customers expect and deserve updates. They want to keep informed.

AI-generated text messages can enable your customers to follow the work performed on their car, from start to finish. When Dominos introduced their Pizza Tracker, for example, it proved to be a game changer for the company. All a customer had to do was enter their order tracking number into the tracking system and they would get a real-time delivery status update on their pizza order.

Action: Fill in any communication gaps by providing your customers with status updates to their service with an AI tool.

Mobile Payments

Don’t force your customers to go to a counter inside the dealership to pay. If you want something new, quit using something old. Instead, give them a touchless option for payment. Text the amount to them, make the payment current and make it easy for them to pay. Simply put, mobile payments enable a speedy checkout and improve the customer experience. Mobile payments are typically safer, faster and more convenient.

Action: Offer mobile payment options to your service customers.

Load Your Shop with Next Appointments

Use texting to remind people of their scheduled appointments. Text messages have a 98% open rate. Until your department is servicing everyone in your market, you’re not there yet. That’s why you must continue with what Amazon calls “Day 1 Mentality.” Treat every day as if it is the first day of a new technology company startup. Focus on what the customer needs and expects. Do it. Do it again. Do it once more.

Action: If the sky is the limit, determine how high the sky.

Big Rocks, Little Rocks

I believe if you want to be effective, you must do the right things first. I call this the “big rocks” category. A big rock is what your customers want. Start with those big rocks, then add the smaller rocks of making your service center more efficient as needed.


John Traver is the founder and CEO of Traver Connect, which offers a complete suite of solutions for automobile dealerships to convert BDC leads into sales and to maximize service-lane opportunities.

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