At Your Service!
How to turn a mundane oil change into an experience your customers won’t soon forget.
Let’s face it; the service experience shouldn’t start when customers come in for their first check-up. It should start the minute they take delivery of their vehicle.
Here’s a golden opportunity to introduce them to your service department. Those sales to service– how is it done? Do you give the customer a card with some contact info for the service department? Or does a service advisor or manager come out at the time of delivery and promote their department by providing a tour?
There’s a better, more customer-centric way because when customers are taking delivery of their new vehicle, they’re not thinking about servicing it. But why not invite customers to your store for a car care clinic? There will be refreshments, presentations about their vehicle and service, and they can meet the managers, maybe owners.
It’s something you can do through a third party, or yourself. From the customer’s perspective, it’s wise to include the owner whenever possible. Owners are passionate about their facility, and it gives the store a face, something customers can relate to. That’s also the time to talk about service, maybe offer a tour of the store, including the service area.
Small town feel
As dealerships become bigger, with more dealer groups, customers want to experience the familiar touch of the family-run, small town, customer-centric type of store. That’s where the car care clinic can make a difference, by introducing employees and members of the executive team, and rolling out the red carpet for customers.
In that car care clinic, customers can learn everything about their vehicle. They love to learn tips. For example, if you hold the remote to your chin, and press a button, your head will amplify the signal almost three times! Imagine how helpful that is for anyone with a stroller who’s trying to find their car in a crowded parking lot.
Customers also want to know about what they should do in the case of an emergency. Smart dealers put a permanent sticker on the driver door pillar with body shop contacts, tow truck information, and of course, their name. Or, they can supply a branded collision package–simply a ziplock bag with a disposable camera and instructions, like contact information for the local area and an outline of what to do in case of a collision. Make customers feel like they’re looking after their safety.
Booking a service appointment should be easy. There should be an online booking system. If someone in your service area takes a phone call, they should follow up with a text or email to confirm. That text message or email helps to make the customer feel obligated to show up.
And when a customer does pull into the service drive, the facility should be inviting. Is there a screen greeting the customer by name? A service advisor should walk out and greet the customer, walking around the vehicle with a tablet, taking notes, and making conversation that’s focused on safety. If there’s a car seat in the back, it should be checked, to make sure it’s fixed in. Mats should be clicked in.
Or perhaps there’s a greeter, who takes the key and introduces the customer to the service advisor. The greeter takes the vehicle through the car wash, wipes down the inside of the glass and also the steering wheel and gear shift.
If your store is up to date, you should have a quick check alignment machine right in the service lane. This not only takes a number of photographs of the vehicle to ensure its current condition but also generates a report which is very safety-centric.
You might want to think about setting up a display showing the difference between a used cabin air filter and a new one, an oil filter, a drain plug, worn brakes, broken thermostats, worn tires, and suspension. This should be displayed in a way that the customer can clearly see the items, and can prompt conversation about safety.
When the customer is inside your service facility, it should feel inviting. Many companies provide screens, where you can display educational content, or the manufacturer’s latest news or awards, or show the latest safety gadgets on next year’s models. Give customers some tidbits they can use. Or get them excited about the brand—what’s your F1 or CASCAR entry, newest technology, or futuristic concept vehicle?
Your people should present a friendly appearance, not be buried behind computer screens. Their uniform is important. Role-playing needs to be practiced, so perhaps doing some mock meet and greet walkarounds, introductions to the service manager, and so on.
Is your lounge friendly? Is there a kids’ area? Do you provide technology, free Wi-Fi, tablets, and USB plug-ins? Is the coffee fresh? Are you providing disposable cups or re-usable ones? You might want to have some signs talking about how the dealership is trying to reduce its environmental footprint.
It empowers the customer to have knowledge about the vehicle and its safety. Customers shouldn’t have to go to YouTube to find this. Your staff should be supplying it. Providing information and friendly education can go a long way to building transparency and trust and developing a better relationship.