Want customer satisfaction to go up? Go digital with your service communication and operations.

That’s according to the recently published J.D. Power 2019 Customer Service Index (CSI) Study, which found that satisfaction scores tend to go up when dealership service departments use customer-preferred methods of communication.

In other words: digital. And especially digital when it comes to tasks such as scheduling service and communicating with the dealer service employees. The study’s findings showed a 75-point variance between customers who have an all-digital experience, compared to an analog experience. It also found that satisfaction spikes more when a service advisor uses a tablet during a visit. The study measures satisfaction with service at a franchised dealer or independent service facility for maintenance or repair work among owners and lessees of 1- to 3-year-old vehicles. It also provides a numerical index ranking of the highest-performing U.S. automotive brands. Key findings include:

  • All generations prefer online scheduling, in greater numbers: This year, 28% of all customers want online appointment-setting over the phone, with Millennials leading the way. Over the past five years, the study has seen a consistent increase in online scheduling demand.

  • In-store engagement remains vital — with the help of tablets: Most customers feel service advisors provide important value in terms of vehicle advice, informing them about work done and status, and performing a walk-around. In fact, the study results found that the walk-around boosted the customer’s perceived value of the service. It’s also an opportunity to bring mobile technology into the experience, adding a rich layer of data and communication.

  • Over-delivery of service excellence is more important than ever: The 2019 Customer Service Index (CSI) Study also identified a shrinking satisfaction gap between franchised dealers and independent facilities. For some dealers, this is less a shift than it is a wake-up call to focus on the things that delight as well as deliver service. For example, according to J.D. Power, so-called “small things” such as washing a customer’s car is only done 81% of the time, and returning vehicle settings to their pre-service status is only completed 45% of the time. Those are two excellent opportunities to surprise and delight a customer — and create a little loyalty.

That’s important in a tough and ultra-competitive market. Overall, this year’s J.D. Power Customer Service Index (CSI) Study illustrates an emerging profile of vehicle service that requires the function and efficiency of digital tools that help to enable a renewed focus on the customer service experience. From scheduling service online to ensuring the on-time completion of repair and maintenance, optimizing communication and workflow efficiencies make it easier to go the extra step — and do so efficiently.

What’s Next?

Click here to learn more about Dealer-FX ONE Platform. At Dealer-FX, our mission is to help automotive dealerships transform the customer experience by providing leading-edge marketing services that help to deliver the right message at the right time — via the right digital channel. How can we help you?

There’s no debate – auto shows are great.

From crazy concepts meant to showcase an “idea” of future mobility to crazier vehicles with no real reason to exist (except for fun), seeing ’em at the show is to see them under the shiny lights of stardom. Heck, even the most mundane and run-of-the-mill vehicular appliances get special treatment at the show.

Perhaps that’s why the annual New York International Auto Show is always so special. No matter why it’s here — or whether it’s even a good idea — the cars are the stars in New York. Take a look at some of the most notable debuts this year, from the outrageous to the amazing…and practical.

Genesis Essentia Concept

It’s true that so-called electric vehicles cars really don’t make headlines anymore. Most are simply plain and functional. That’s not the case with the Genesis Essentia. The brand’s first EV concept is a bold interpretation of what the future of driving might become. Check out the unique Jetson-esqe glass bubble, transparent hood, and sleek chromed lines.

Genesis Mint Concept

As a concept, the Mint is cool. As an actual, honest-to-goodness real two-seater? Yes please! Genesis officials are looking into the idea of making the Mint a production vehicle. If they do, here’s hoping the brand keeps the electric drive powertrain. That would make it an efficient and sporty must-drive icon for the brand.

Karlmann King

Got $2.2 million burning a hole in your pocket? Come check out the Karlmann King — or don’t. Because truly this is the SUV for people with too much money. Weighing in at almost 10,000 pounds (13,000 with bulletproof material), The King is powered by the Ford 6.8-liter V10, which makes 398 horsepower. Problem is, the portly dimensions of the vehicle squeeze all those horses down to a sluggish 90 MPH maximum speed. Even worse, the King only seats four. Why?

2020 Nissan GT-R 50th Anniversary Edition

The GT-R is like the LeBron of performance vehicles. Or the Neymar of motivation. Indeed, simply say the letters G, T, and R aloud and you’re sure to get knowing glances and nods from nearby auto enthusiasts. This is a special vehicle with a special history — so it’s fitting that the 50th Anniversary Editon debut at the 2019 New York Auto Show. As a part of the package, this icon of icons gets three heritage-era, two-tone exterior color combinations, including Bayside (Wangan) Blue — with white racing stripes — the first time that color was used since the famed GT-R “R34” model.

2019 Porsche 911 Speedster

Go ahead. Look at it and dream. The limited-edition roofless Porsche 911 Speedster is powered by the automaker’s 4.0-liter 6-cylinder engine that makes 502 horsepower. It’s a special car — and as such just 1,948 copies will be made available. In case you’re wondering, 1948 is the year Porsche was founded.

Click here for more about 2019 New York Auto Show.

What’s Next?

Click here to learn more about Dealer-FX ONE Platform. At Dealer-FX, our mission is to help automotive dealerships transform the customer experience by providing leading-edge marketing services that help to deliver the right message at the right time — via the right digital channel. How can we help you?

Quick: What’s simple to do, difficult to master, but critical to your service business?

Maybe it’s expert vehicle service and repair. Or perhaps the friendly professionalism of your experienced service advisors. It could be the efficiency of your parts team, as well.

No. That thing that’s simple to do yet difficult to master — the Holy Grail of your service department — is the art of appointment setting. That’s according to Dealer-FX Vice President of Client Optimization, Greg Dryden, as well as any service expert worth their weight in ROs. And it seems pretty simple, right? After all, getting people to make an appointment is the first and most important step toward service success. And yet finding a shop that does it right is as difficult to locate as that cup sought out by King Arthur and Indiana Jones. Simply put. scheduling impacts every area of your service department. The challenge is that many advisors and appointment setters see the appointment process as something to just get through quickly; many advisors will often brag about how they can make an appointment in 30 seconds or less. Having written service for over 12 years, I do understand the pressure to move quickly — but most would agree that making a good impression and getting accurate information is far more important than getting off the phone in 30 seconds.

It’s that first interaction that makes it so important, whether that’s online or over the phone. In fact, according to the 2019 J.D. Power Customer Service Index Survey, 28% of customers prefer to book online, but about 45% of customers do not know booking online is an option. That makes it pretty clear that while booking online is the preferred approach if you want to do it right — every time — your advisors have to master both options. Here are a few tips to help:  

Tip 1: Enable Online Scheduling. The J.D. Power study found that customers who book online book an average of $50 of factory recommended maintenance, compared to $32 when calling in. Customers who booked online also spend $25 more in the drive when presented the maintenance menu, and had higher CSI scores. Reduce the number of phone calls your advisor has to answer and get customers to book more maintenance online. They’ll spend more, and deliver higher CSI scores.

Tip 2: Introduce Online Scheduling as Part of New Car Delivery. Show the customer your website and walk them through how to make their first appointment online. Give them a reminder card, as well — with the website address listed. Then introduce them to the service advisor you set the online check-in with — just to connect the dots. But what if you’re not online? Phone appointments are just as important — even though they might not be as efficient or profitable. Keep these in mind when your team is on the phone:

Tip 3: Answer the Phone! You’d be amazed at how often a customer calls, yet can’t get through. Or gets put on hold forever. If you don’t have enough staff to answer the phones, fix that first so that every call is answered by the fourth ring.

Connect - Custom Marketing Solutions
Thank the customer for calling your dealership, identify yourself and ask, ”How can I help?” Find out the customer’s name and make sure you know the make, model and mileage for the vehicle to be serviced.

Tip 4: Be Professional. “Service” is not an appropriate way to answer. Thank the customer for calling your dealership, identify yourself and ask, ”How can I help?” Find out the customer’s name and make sure you know the make, model and mileage for the vehicle to be serviced. Before ending the call, verify their contact information and secure text/email opt-ins for communication. Sadly, there are times when a car is in for service and the advisor can’t reach the customer… because no one bothered to verify their phone number and email address.

Tip 5: Understand the Customer’s Concerns.  Are they experiencing a specific issue? Do they have a description? Check the vehicle history, and get background information. Is this is a repeat visit? Are they coming in for maintenance only? Pretend you’re the technician trying to identify the issue and ask questions such as How long has this been happening? Is it all the time or intermittently? and When do you notice it? Take the time to thoroughly document everything the customer says. Your customers and technicians will appreciate the effort.

Tip 6: Advise the Customer on Maintenance. Send them a copy of required maintenance intervals, so they can know what to expect before check-in. A good appointment scheduling system will integrate with OEM data and populate factory required maintenance — priced out and ready to review. Some studies show a 32% increase in factory scheduled maintenance sold on the drive if presented during the appointment call.

Tip 7: Check for Recalls. You should also have the ability (with a VIN) to let your customer know ahead of time if there are any required recalls. Help the customer find their VIN by suggesting that they look at their insurance card or owner’s app. Ask the parts department to supply a daily list of on-hand parts for the top ten most active recalls

Tip 8: Help with Transportation Options. Ask if they will need alternate transportation. If so, share dealership options. Remember that the best approach is to “underpromise” and “overdeliver” the time it takes to properly diagnose and repair a car, so try to make it convenient for customers to leave their car overnight. Today’s appointment technology usually includes a transportation option — and that helps to make sure the rentals, loaners and shuttles are ready to go.

Tip 9: Set Expectations. An survey done a few years ago found that most people prefer going to the dentist over going to the repair shop. You can help ease their anxiety by being transparent and telling customers what to expect. Walk them through the process, including time with the advisor, so they can plan ahead.

Tip 10: Send a Confirmation Email. Send a reminder email 24 hours prior to check-in time. Explain that this specific time is set aside for them to meet with their advisor, not an appointment with the technician. Be ready with an educated guess for the inevitable follow-up question. “When will my vehicle be seen by a technician?”

Tip 11: Monitor Calls. If your dealership monitors incoming and outgoing phone calls, set aside a few minutes to listen to random calls daily. You’ll be amazed at the coaching opportunities that arise from this simple exercise.

It all seems pretty simple. Yet finding the Holy Grail, like finding the sweet spot between the ideal customer interaction and reality, is difficult. And if you think your service department is the exception, try going on your own quest for the Service Department Holy Grail as a mystery shopper.  

Mystery Shopper Exercise

Want to see how easy it is for a customer to book an appointment at your dealership? Start by going online to see how effective your online solution is. Was it easy to access? Did you see the maintenance as recommended in your owner’s manual? Was there a picture of the advisor you would be working with? Did you get a reminder email? Could you add it to your calendar?

Next, call your dealership and pretend you have never been there before. Did the team build your confidence with their level of professionalism? Do you feel like they gathered the information needed to know and understand your concern? Did they follow up? Was it accurate?

If they did — congratulations! You have no need to journey forth. If you don’t have a good impression, it’s a safe bet your customers won’t either. Let’s treat the appointment-setting process the way it should be – not as an inconvenience to be done as quickly as possible, but as a quest for the Holy Grail!

How Can Dealer-FX Help?

At Dealer-FX, our mission is to help auto brands and dealerships transform the customer experience by providing leading-edge technology solutions that create an exceptional and efficient service experience. How can we help you?

By Ridge McCoy| Regional Performance Manager
Dealer-FX Group, Inc.

Read More from Ridge:

What happens when you give service employees multiple layers of valuable information — right at their fingertips — and right when they need it?

Great service happens.

Simply put, providing usable information about customer and vehicle usually results in accurate estimates that include parts availability, complete jobs, and improved department efficiency. That makes for a shop that specializes in happy customers and a healthy bottom line. Making that happen is at the core of what Technician Inspection software does. So if you’re researching digital multi-point inspection technology solutions, make sure you start with these three questions:

#1. How Does Technician Inspection Help Service Department Employees Work More Efficiently?  

Technician Inspection helps to speed the service process by putting all required data in one place, such as customer concerns, reported vehicle condition from the walk-around, service history, prior MPI inspections, current approved services and service advisor notes. When technicians, advisors and parts employees get the data they need at the right time, it improves morale and efficiency. For example, the right data helps parts employees generate accurate quotes, which advisors use for faster, more accurate estimates – and results in expanded labor hours.

#2. What are Some of the Tangible Benefits of Technician Inspection?

Because it provides more vital customer and vehicle information at the right time and place, Technician Inspection can improve fixed first-visit rates. Technician Inspection connects seamlessly back into the Service Dashboard which improves internal communication with real-time messaging between advisors, the parts department, and other service employees. And with an electronic MPI report that can be printed or texted to the customer, upsell opportunities grow — as does credibility and professionalism.  

#3. How Does Technician Inspection Improve Customer Experience?


Transparency, convenience, and accuracy are the keys to happy customers. That’s what Technician Inspection delivers, along with Digital MPI (DMPI). Both are instrumental in improving these three crucial requirements during the service process. By giving technicians multiple layers of customer data, it ensures that they have all the information they need to get the job done right, with precise estimates. Digital MPI provides transparent inspection results to the customer and allows them to review and approve recommendations on their mobile device. As a result of the connective benefits of Technician Inspection, it’s easier to resolve all customer concerns and provide them with a more complete view of estimates — for quicker approvals. That makes customers happy – and helps to deliver faster repair approvals.

Special Feature:  Try These Actions to Make the Most of Technician Inspection

If parts price and availability requests are made to the parts department electronically, it allows the technician to move on to another job while the request is being completed. That increases efficiency and reduces the potential to waste time waiting for availability.

How Can Dealer-FX Help?

At Dealer-FX, our mission is to help auto brands and dealerships transform the customer experience by providing leading-edge technology solutions that create an exceptional and efficient service experience. How can we help you?

Related Posts

One of the benefits of being in the auto business is, well, being in the auto business. Let’s face it: while most other industries spend their days fixing and selling widgets, we get cars, chrome, horsepower and Auto Shows.

What could be better? Granted, some shows are all about the mainstream. Cars that debut at, say, the Detroit or Chicago Auto Shows are usually meant to sell – and in massive quantities. A big part of the reason why shows are so popular is because it give car shoppers a chance to take a closer look at their next prospective purchase. SUVs, hybrids, trucks or sedans – with each refreshed model year, there’s an Auto Show debut coming soon.

That’s not what the Geneva Motor Show is all about – at least for those of us on this side of the pond. While the European show has its fair share of practical debuts, every year there also seems to be a large contingent of wild, crazy and plain awesome special editions. Here are a few stand outs from the just-completed Geneva Motor Show press days:

Golden Sahara II

The weirdest debut at Geneva had to be the Golden Sahara II — a legendary 1950s custom car with translucent tires. No one’s buying thing – unless you’ve got over $300k. Revealed by Klairmont Kollections and Goodyear, in addition to the tires, the car also boasts early autonomous technologies, an aircraft-inspired grille, tailfins, canopy glass and control stick.

 Audi R8 V10 Decennium

The intent is to “pay homage” to the Audi V10 engine, and this R8 certainly does that – and more. The 620 horsepower V10 engine with bronze-colored highlights is pretty unforgettable. That’s a good thing because with only 222 editions available, your memory – and these images — will have to be enough.

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 1941

It’s not all sports cars and Speed Racer at Geneva. Case in point: The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 1941, designed by Mopar with Jeep Performance Parts. Everything here is authentic – and meant for where the pavement ain’t.  

2019 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe and Cabriolet Exclusive Edition

On the more practical side, Mercedes-Benz trimmed out the S-Class Coupe and Cabriolet as two stunning special edition vehicles, debuted at Geneva for the 2019 model year. Features include an LED Intelligent Light System with Swarovski crystals, as well as “Exclusive Edition” lettering on the cup holder cover in the center console.

Click here for more 2019 Geneva Motor Show coverage.

What’s Next?

Click here to learn more about Dealer-FX ONE Platform. At Dealer-FX, our mission is to help automotive dealerships transform the customer experience by providing leading-edge marketing services that help to deliver the right message at the right time — via the right digital channel. How can we help you?

If the recent automotive news tells us anything, it’s that sales are slow – and change is fast. Automakers and dealerships are navigating declining demand, while at the same time managing shifts in consumer expectations. They’re also searching for ways to speed the sales process and streamline service department functions. Recently, in fact, new events are taking shape that may create additional revenue and customer service opportunities across the dealership.

So, while the story of sales may not be great news, the industry’s movement toward more efficient operations is exciting and promising. On the service side, new marketing opportunities and additional revenue streams are emerging, all directly or indirectly related to technology innovations now coming to the fore. Here are a few service-related headlines:  

Vehicle Subscription Plans Might Become a Boon for Fixed Ops

What: You’ve undoubtedly heard the news about vehicle subscription programs. From all-makes platforms like Fair, to automaker-specific test programs operated by Ford, Cadillac and Volvo, it’s an idea that is gaining popularity – especially at the dealerships. Indeed, there are already a few dealers who are operating their own subscription program to further monetize their inventory. According to Automotive News, that includes service revenue, as well.   

Takeaway: The article outlines ideas that dealers can try in order to create a revenue stream from a subscription program. One such idea for dealers is to base a service drive subscription program on reconditioning best practices. The value is due to the dealer’s access to historic vehicle data.  Additional ideas include adding fees for repairs and warranty work.

Go here: Vehicle subscription plans create fixed ops opportunities for dealerships

Top Global Sellers: Can You Guess the Top Ten?

What: Okay, so most people already know that the Ford F-Series truck is the best-selling vehicle. And many would probably guess that the Toyota Corolla is also on the top five list of the global popularity. But did you know the popular Nissan Rogue is in the top five? It’s true. And here’s another surprise: The Toyota Camry didn’t crack the top ten. The list is published at MSN and is based on 2018 global registrations from JATO.

Takeaway: Counting vehicle sales around the globe shows trends in terms of consumer preferences, and in how automakers are responding to an array of market pressures. At the dealership level, it can also provide a signal as to which vehicles consumers will be most interested in buying, and what service managers might see more of when it comes to maintenance and repair.

Go here: The world’s best-selling cars of 2018

Your Friendly Lyft Driver Might Be a Great New Source of Income

What: According to Automotive News, there are currently around 4 million rideshare drivers bopping around cities and suburbs. That’s a lot of Lyft and Uber business, to be sure – and it’s also a great opportunity for dealerships. Consider, for example, that while most vehicles are active just four percent of the time, rideshare vehicles ring the bell at a robust 26 percent. The Automotive News post figures that this type of use equals six times the required maintenance.

Takeaway: If you’re not already marketing to ride-share drivers, seriously consider doing so. Obviously, their income requires consistent maintenance and repair on an accelerated schedule – and that makes them an ideal customer. If you build a solid service relationship based on complete, fast and affordable service, chances are they will return many times.

Go here: Drivers for ride-hailing services can be a prime source of fixed ops profits

Winter Blues Expected to Creep Into February Car Sales

What: Edmunds is forecasting a gloomy February for new vehicle sales, thanks to a 2.2 percent decrease compared to February 2018, and an estimated seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 16.7 million.  On the bright side, sales improved over January 2019 by over 12 percent. Edmunds analyst Jeremy Acevedo sees it as a subtle drop and a “good barometer of the gradual sales decline we expect through 2019.” He cites the growing cost of purchase, such as interest rates, as a main reason for the slump.

Takeaway: After almost a decade of record-breaking growth, the auto market seems to have settled into a gradual sales decline, driven by higher cost and perhaps the availability of late model used vehicles. Regardless of the reason, service managers are becoming bigger VIPs inside the dealership, with a mandate to streamline service operations, and improve efficiency throughout the department.

Go Here: February Foretells Slower New Vehicle Sales in 2019

Most dealership managers know that the service department is their best source of steady, consistent revenue. Yet too often it seems that maximizing the amount of that revenue — and lowering the cost of the operation — just aren’t priorities.

That’s a problem — especially in an unsteady market where customer expectations around convenience and efficiency continue to grow. Every opportunity to increase ROs and improve customer loyalty is vital to sustaining a vibrant and competition-proof service business over the long term. Doing that requires a technology footprint that helps to ensure all steps of the customer lifecycle are met in a timely and efficient manner.

As simple as that seems, it’s not. Technology is complicated, and it’s hard to know exactly what the benefits are and how they help the bottom line. To that end, it’s important to be prepared by understanding the basics of the technology — and having a few tough questions at the ready. That way you can truly see whether the technology fits your service department’s unique set of challenges. Here’s a simple summary of ONE Platform:  

Seven Digital Solutions of the Dealer-FX ONE Platform

ONE Platform manages the complete service customer lifecycle. It connects seven digital service solutions across the entire experience, integrates with vehicle data, OEM systems and most DMS providers. It’s designed to enhance the customer’s service experience and drive the digital transformation of dealerships:

  • Connect: DMS, OEM, and customer service data for targeted messaging
  • Schedule: An online scheduler on your dealership website
  • Check-In: VIN-specific customer information directly on the tablet for an efficient write-up process
  • Inspect: Multiple layers of customer data so techs have all the information they need
  • Engage: Real-time vehicle status updates, OEM recall notifications, service reminders
  • Check-Out: Customer check-out integrated with EasyPay, a mobile payment solution
  • Retain: Post-service messages, personalized invitations and reminders

ONE Platform provides visibility into virtually all service operations — which can improve customer promise times, increase ROs and elevate scores on customer surveys.

ONE Platform by the Numbers
51% Increase in Customer Pay Sales
12% Increase in CSI Scores
$134 Increase per RO From Appointment To Final RO

Stump the Rep: Ten Questions about ONE Platform

The best way to get the most out of your appointment is to engage the rep’s knowledge about the technology. Do that by asking questions and pulling the experience toward a conversation. Here are ten tough questions that should help you get a pretty good idea about the Dealer-FX ONE Platform:

  1. Will ONE Platform make or save my dealership money, or is it just another technology expense?  
  2. How can I improve cycle time and staff efficiencies, including technicians?
  3. How is the customer service journey tracked, and how can it be leveraged to generate additional business?
  4. How does ONE Platform help me interact with customers in the way they expect?
  5. Can you show me how ONE Platform can manage the “digital service department – from almost anywhere?”
  6. How can this technology provide a Group instant access to performance and return on investment?
  7. Can you show me how to text recommendations to a customer?
  8. Explain why or how ONE Platform creates greater efficiencies.
  9. How does the consolidation of products within the platform actually help with support and training?
  10. Walk me through how ONE Platform delivers greater throughput in the service department.

What’s Next?

Click here to learn more about Dealer-FX ONE Platform. At Dealer-FX, our mission is to help automotive dealerships transform the customer experience by providing leading-edge marketing services that help to deliver the right message at the right time — via the right digital channel. How can we help you?

Something special always happens at NADA. For starters, there are always new friends to meet, and old colleagues to catch up with on the show floor and at events.

There’s the chance to learn more about new technologies, and be entertained by some of the best and brightest stars around. After all, with more than 600,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space at Moscone Center in San Francisco, there’s plenty of room to do many things great things — and meet many great people. This year was no exception. In fact, in some ways it raised the bar on what was possible, and pushed the limits on convention entertainment. From laughs with Dana Carvey on Saturday to sincerity with Major Dan Rooney on Sunday, NADA 2019 also focused on charities, the #womeninautomotive video contest and much more.

Dealer-FX: On a Mission for Success

Over at the Dealer-FX booth, we celebrated a very upbeat and successful NADA 2019, thanks to the popularity of ONE Platform, and debuts like our Sales2Service mobile solution. In addition, our very own Greg Dryden, vice-president of client optimization, held a successful education session on Service Department Effectiveness in the 21st Century. It was a great week of learning new things, and of finding ways to improve service business. Maybe the only thing better would be to add an autograph from Hall of Fame Quarterback Steve Young.  

Here’s a look back at our NADA 2019 experience:  

Founder, President & CEO Gary Kalk kicks off an autograph session with Hall of Fame Quarterback Steve Young.

The Dealer-FX booth was buzzing throughout the show.