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Some customers are afraid to visit your dealership. From showroom to the service drive, they have anxiety about negotiating, the F&I process, and even the service experience.

Sound familiar? It should. Over the years, the dealership experience has been a much-covered topic. One national survey conducted by Harris Poll found that 52% of Americans feel anxious or uncomfortable when visiting a car dealership. Today, of course, it’s evolved into one of the most important issues dealers face. In fact, multiple studies claim that up to 75% of customers who visit a dealership for service within a 12-month window are likely to return to purchase their next vehicle.

Fact is, the service drive is the central “drive” of the dealership. It’s a recession-proof, consistent profit machine that also helps fill the sales pipeline. What’s more, according to a recent DealerRater/Fixed Ops Journal survey, three out of four vehicle owners “generally prefer getting maintenance and repairs for their cars and trucks at franchised dealerships.” The survey, which polled 16,000 consumers, also found that 81% of owners of luxury-brand vehicles were likely to return for dealership service.

But wait a minute. If people prefer to visit dealer service departments, how exactly are they full of fear at the idea of it?

Help Create Positive Customer Service Anticipation

For starters, it’s fair to speculate that customers are far more apprehensive going into a service appointment than when leaving. Whether it’s a simple rotation or a major interval service, they often don’t know what to expect, how much it will cost or how long it will take. The very idea of automotive service can feel disruptive. The challenge is to shift the customer perception. How does a dealer reduce consumer fear and loathing going into the dealership, and extend the happiness after the sale? This is critical because future dealership revenue streams will depend on how customers feel about going to their local dealership. Here are three simple suggestions:

Help Service Customers Feel Comfortable: Service customers usually start online, scheduling a time to bring their vehicle in for maintenance. So make sure your online scheduling is fully integrated into the service communications so that they’re welcomed by a prepared and friendly service advisor. Your advisors understand the customer profile, priorities, and objectives ahead of time, and are ready for them. You can do this by utilizing existing data, such as VIN and sales information, as well as OEM data about the vehicle. Perhaps most importantly, use digital technology, such as a tablet, to conduct a truly interactive “show and tell” walk-around.

Show Your Expertise: The survey results reflect a need for expertise. Customers simply value the dealer’s knowledge over price discounts from independent shops. Invest in the appropriate certification training classes and renew testing on a consistent basis. Then showcase all that well-earned knowledge in a friendly and consultative way during the inspection. This perspective – this expertise – is why people come to your service drive. Best of all, it’s a win-win: the customer feels empowered by your knowledge and knows that it’s good service advice. The service departments get higher ROs and builds better loyalty.

A Transparent Relationship Always Reduces Apprehension: Each customer touchpoint you have builds data, and provides valuable information about what they want and how to best serve them. It also – if you’re paying attention – reveals their needs, challenges, and lifestyle requirements over time. Do they coach soccer – so a Saturday pickup is impossible? Are they commuters, and will they arrive home after closing? These tidbits or data points personalize the experience and help create connected relationships. Done right, it will build over time to the point where a loyal customer would never even consider going to another shop. But here’s the most important tip of all: make everything transparent, and use technology to do so. Your customers want to know about pricing, standards and service — in advance of coming to the drive. Make it available through digital marketing, and they will make you a consistent stop.

It makes sense that service customers find the process daunting and stressful. Their lives are disrupted, and they often feel that they have very little control over the outcome. By creating an integrated approach between human service and tech-driven efficiency, you can set the stage for a proactive relationship that stays connected long after the warranty has expired.

What’s Next?

We drive the digital transformation of dealerships with the only end-to-end platform that gives your employees the tools they need to satisfy customers while driving higher revenue and profits. 

A Disruptive Transformation, and a Golden Opportunity

Automotive retailers and service professionals face a disruptive transformation. Indeed, while the business of selling and servicing cars seems to be moving at the pace of “business as usual,” around the bend lies one of the most challenging times since the 2009 recession. Consider: Today’s balky, downshifting market, combined with rising interest rates and the rise of multiple customer options, has created a stew of margin pressure. Not to mention increased customer expectations.

Dealer-fx: Creating a Best-Ever Service Department Experience for Today’s Customers

Fixed Ops to the Rescue…Or Not

A key profit anchor for dealerships when times are tough, service departments have historically risen to the occasion. Will this time be different? Maybe. Today, the service drive is also under pressure from several transformative disruptors:

  • Millennial influencers are forcing a technology-based culture change. They’re demanding a convenient, transparent and personalized service experience.
  • The ongoing technician shortage presents challenges to maintaining shop operations and growing the capacity to meet demand.
  • Improved vehicle reliability and longer service intervals make repairs less common and service visits less frequent. It’s a fact compounded by the adoption of electric vehicles and the ever-present competitive pressure from independent shops.
  • Dealers seek ways to expand service department capacity without making sizeable brick & mortar investments.

These demands are forcing the adoption of technology solutions across service departments. Digital workflows and service platforms are creating process efficiencies that scale, while also speeding transactions and connecting to customers. The result is an environment of high-risk for dealers: get your technology right or suffer the consequences of lower customer satisfaction and retention in the bedrock of your business.

Disruptive Technology Gains Velocity

This disruption to traditional practices is quickly gaining velocity. Consider how Uber, Lyft and others disrupt the transportation business and create more consumer options. Note how this idea of personalized mobility has evolved into ride-sharing services and subscription-based vehicle leasing platforms. Information sharing between cars, customers and companies is also on the move.

Telematics has already enriched the diagnostic and information-capturing capabilities of new vehicles, including creating data profiles of the vehicle and customer. In fact, research from McKinsey estimates that connected cars may account for 22 percent of all vehicles on the road by 2020. Indeed, as the industry moves toward 2020, these developments will accelerate as big data, AI and machine learning are infused into platforms and processes.

Ever-Rising Customer Expectations

Telematic and autonomous technologies are already changing new vehicle development, sales, and service. Yet there are still 250 million passenger vehicles on the road in need of service and repair – most of which do not have any of this new technology.

So, what does it take to win the hearts and minds of today’s consumers? The answer is reflected in consumer behavior: they are moving away from simply purchasing products and towards carefully designed, recurring customer experiences, enabled by intelligent applications served on mobile technology.

Amazon is busy creating a personalized, intuitive, and frictionless experience that retrains consumers to expect transparency and data throughput.

In fact, there are more than a few companies that have demonstrated this trend toward the intelligent use of data and preferences applied to mobile applications in stellar ways. One need only look to Amazon to see how the core of this idea can disrupt industries and win the hearts of consumers.

Not only do they know each customer’s relevant measurements, demographics, preferences, and payment info, they anticipate each need and gently make suggestions at the appropriate time. Through the careful use of many types of data, they are able to think differently about the customer interaction. As a result they provide a compelling, ongoing experience with a personalized touch.

The result is an experience that’s noticeably different and better than those of competitors because it makes the process of continually buying a product or service incredibly easy and habit-forming.

Next Week: Part Two: How to Thrive in the Emerging Economy

Provides Real-Time Status Of Every Vehicle At Every Stage of Service

Toronto and Detroit, March 14, 2018

Dealer-FX, the leading customer experience management provider for automotive OEMs and their retailers, is announcing the release of the Service Dashboard, the industry’s only real-time department management, status and communication tool. Today’s customers want to know exactly where their vehicle is within the service process and when it will be ready for pick-up. The Service Dashboard enables dealers to consistently meet that expectation.

The Service Dashboard, formerly known as the Dynamic Route Sheet, automatically collects data in real-time from the DMS and the other components of ONE Platform to provide a complete view of all activity within the department. It tracks every vehicle at every stage of the service process, alerting advisors to potential bottlenecks and letting them communicate via text with both employees and customers. It’s the central hub, the screen where department employees spend much of their time including starting new tasks, and the Single Source of Truth for the dealership service department.

“The Service Dashboard gives dealers an unprecedented level of visibility and control over the entire service department,” said Gary Kalk, President and CEO of Dealer-FX. “Dealers can now manage every aspect of their people and processes, and can identify the sources of delays and inefficiencies that cost time and money. Service Dashboard makes it easy to manage capacity, boost throughput and drive both customer satisfaction and profitability higher. It changes the game.”

Total Visibility, Complete Control

The Service Dashboard allows dealers to manage the service department and track the progress of every vehicle through the shop from before the write up to delivery. It ensures greeters, advisors, parts clerks and technicians are more effective than ever. Because it’s automated, advisors don’t spend time filling out route sheets and service managers can quickly see all shop activity at any point in the day. Advisors, technicians, managers and parts clerks can easily communicate with each other without leaving their workstations, keeping everyone more customer-focused and productive. All internal and customer communications are associated with a VIN, so the tool maintains a complete record of every message, recommendation and response – ‘who said what’ is never in question.

Focuses Attention for the Greatest Impact

A unique feature of the Service Dashboard is the Opportunities tab, which allows users to identify potentially problematic vehicles, including those falling behind the timeline needed to meet the promise time, or those not meeting the quarter-time needed to complete the vehicle inspection. It also highlights missed appointments, vehicles ready for delivery, those not delivered and more. Managers can focus on the areas of greatest impact and minimize attention paid to vehicles not needing help.

Single Source of Truth

The Service Dashboard is feature-rich, able to handle the demands of the largest and most complex dealerships:

  • Quickly identify potential roadblocks so service managers can keep jobs on track to meet customer expectations
  • Send technician recommendations to customers using Digital MPI, the most convenient mobile approval tool available
  • Alert employees when promise time and quarter-time targets are at risk
  • Send invoices and receive payment via EasyPay
  • Send and receive texts with customers and department employees, keeping a VIN-level record of all communication in an easily accessible journal
  • Automatically see all of the day’s appointments including transportation options and unfinished carry over work
  • Access the entire vehicle history with every document associated with a VIN, including pre-writes, menus, inspection results and ROs from work completed
  • View an up-to-the-minute timeline of the service process, with timestamps marking the completion of each step for every vehicle
  • Customize the display of the Service Dashboard to suit each user’s needs

The Service Dashboard is included with ONE Platform at no additional cost. As with the entire set of ONE Platform solutions, Service Dashboard relies on certified, bi-directional integration with the DMS and leading third parties, and shares data across all ONE Platform solutions.

About Dealer-FX

Dealer-FX is transforming how millions of consumers interact with automotive brands and their retailers. Our customer experience management platform uses advanced data analysis and mobile applications to deliver convenience, transparency and trust to consumers, and increased efficiency, profitability, retention and brand loyalty to OEMs and dealers. We are backed by the strength and resources of HGGC, a private equity firm in Palo Alto, CA.

Our core offering, ONE Platform, is comprised of seven components, which along with the Service Dashboard, manage the entire service experience from initial contact through drive-off and to next visit. It delivers the best dealer service experience. Period.

Dealer-FX is the exclusive or preferred service technology provider for FCA, Nissan, Infiniti, Toyota, Lexus, Audi, Mitsubishi and several other OEMs in the US and Canada, and has more than 2,000 dealership clients. Dealer-FX is based in Toronto, ON, and maintains an office in Rochester Hills, MI. For more information please visit dealer-fx.com, or connect on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

 

Partnership will launch data-driven analytics products available exclusively on the Dealer-FX platform

Toronto, ON and Concord, MA, January 27, 2017

Dealer-FX, the leading customer experience management platform for automotive OEMs and dealerships, and Carlisle & Company, the leading provider of aftersales strategic guidance and tactical solutions for the world’s leading motor vehicle brands, have formed an exclusive strategic partnership that will bring ground-breaking data and analytical solutions to the automotive industry.

This unique partnership will deliver Carlisle’s deep industry knowledge, proprietary data and analytical expertise through Dealer-FX’s industry-leading technology platform. Dealer-FX manages every touch point within the customer’s service experience, from initial contact through scheduling and every step at the dealership, and then retaining the customer by bringing them back. Incorporating these data-driven insights and customer-specific recommendations into the technology platform that drives a dealer’s service operations gives dealership management unprecedented control over core elements of the business.

The new products will replace stagnant information, guesswork and decades-old rules of thumb with intelligent algorithms that capture real-time data across the Dealer-FX platform, make informed predictions and provide actionable recommendations at every touch point along the customer journey. Dealerships will deliver the next level of personalized experience to each customer, using proprietary algorithms that are aligned with the dealership’s operating and financial objectives.

“We’re incredibly excited about working with the Carlisle team. Its unparalleled industry knowledge and relationships, extensive analytical capabilities and core integrity align perfectly with Dealer-FX’s organization and culture. Together we will deliver completely unique, highly valuable solutions that solve some of the industry’s most persistent problems and give both dealers and OEMs the sophisticated analytical tools that will drive retention and loyalty, which other industries have enjoyed for years,” said Dealer-FX CEO, Gary Kalk.

“The products we’re developing together will unlock billions of dollars of value within dealers and OEM service and sales operations, value that’s currently trapped by legacy systems and inflexible workflows. For years we’ve been looking for the right technology partner with a platform that can collect the right high-quality data, and apply our insights in real-time to benefit both customers and dealers. We’ve finally found that partner in Dealer-FX,” said David Carlisle, Chairman of Carlisle & Co. “This relationship is a game changer for Carlisle & Co. and for the industry.”

Its first product, focused on optimizing customer retention, will predict customer behavior at multiple points along their journey and tailor the service experience to maximize the chance of profitably retaining them. By offering the right actions and incentives at the right points in the customer’s journey, the dealership can drive behavior that benefits both parties, improving retention, CSI, trust, and the customer’s willingness to spend.

Future products, some of which will utilize machine learning technologies, will apply the partnership’s unique capabilities to address service cycle time, dealership throughput and capacity management, supply chain effectiveness and alternative customer satisfaction metrics.

About Dealer-FX

Dealer-FX is transforming how millions of consumers interact with automotive brands and their retailers. Our customer experience management platform uses advanced data analysis and mobile applications to deliver convenience, transparency and trust to consumers, and increased efficiency, profitability, retention and brand loyalty to OEMs and dealers. We are backed by the strength and resources of HGGC, a private equity firm in Palo Alto, CA.

Our core offering, ONE Platform, is comprised of seven components, which along with the Service Dashboard, manage the entire service experience from initial contact through drive-off and to next visit. It delivers the best dealer service experience. Period.

Dealer-FX is the exclusive or preferred service technology provider for FCA, Nissan, Infiniti, Toyota, Lexus, Audi, Mitsubishi and several other OEMs in the US and Canada, and has more than 2,000 dealership clients. Dealer-FX is based in Toronto, ON, and maintains an office in Rochester Hills, MI. For more information please visit dealer-fx.com, or connect on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

About Carlisle & Company

Carlisle & Company is the preferred provider of aftersales strategic guidance and tactical solutions for the world’s leading motor vehicle brands. The firm’s expertise is in data analytics, consulting, benchmarking, research, operational excellence, and non-profit consulting. Uniting and driving this breadth and depth of expertise is the pursuit of a better customer experience in the OEM channel.

Global OEMs in the automotive, agriculture, commercial truck, construction, diesel engine, industrial products, mining, and power equipment sectors have been coming to Carlisle for over 20 years. Their capabilities are global with a particular focus on North America and Europe. Carlisle & Company’s reputation is built on a history of performance, strong values and culture, integrity, and creativity.

For more information, please visit Carlisle-co.com.