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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?

See how dealership service departments can improve efficiency and customer experience while increasing retention and profitability.

Toronto and Detroit, January 9, 2019 – Dealer-FX, the leading customer experience management provider for automotive OEMs and their retailers, announced it will be conducting a NADA Workshop focused on improving dealership service department effectiveness and efficiency at the NADA 2019 Convention & Expo in San Francisco, January 24-27, 2019.

This informative in-depth workshop covers several actionable opportunities and educates dealers how to:

  1. Identify gaps in current service department processes such as missed appointments, lost service write-up revenue, declined services and lost parts sales.
  2. Calculate the impact on business caused by gaps and breakdowns in processes.
  3. Formulate a plan to address customer experience gaps while increasing throughput, capacity, parts, service revenue and service retention.
  4. Solve issues with parts specifying, driving better overall service department efficiency.
  5. Structure pay plans that drive the behaviors required to boost key performance metrics.
  6. Implement a plan to improve the experience at every touchpoint with the customer with goals of improving customer satisfaction, retention and brand loyalty/repurchase.

Objectives such as these only happen through actionable best practices, identified and discussed by an industry expert.

“Your service department is the foundation of the dealership,” said Greg Dryden, Vice President of Client Optimization, Dealer-FX. “Understanding areas of opportunity in your service business is the first step toward improving processes, the customer experience and driving profitability.”

There are two sessions to choose from:

Session 1:
When: Thursday, January 24, 2019
Time: 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM
Where: 3010W
Department: NADA Fixed Ops

Session 2:
When: Saturday, January 26, 2019
Time: 10:30 AM – 11:30 AM
Room: 3011W
Department: NADA Fixed Ops

The Dealer-FX Team will be at the NADA 2019 Expo in San Francisco, January 25-27, 2019, in booth #3625S to demonstrate the features and benefits of ONE Platform to OEMs and dealers.

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About Dealer-FX

Dealer-FX is transforming how 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. The company is backed by the strength and resources of HGGC.

Dealer-FX’s 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, VW, Mitsubishi and several other OEMs in the US and Canada, and has more than 2,500 dealership clients. Dealer-FX is based in Toronto, ON. For more information please visit, dealer-fx.com.

Contact:
Dennis Welsh, Director of Marketing
(877) 493-0039 x216
pr@dealer-fx.com


Today, technology is such a big part of everything we do that it seems as though we were never able to do anything without it. Just try to imagine a world without email, for example. Or mobile devices.

It’s a little hard to believe that the first-ever mobile phone was sold in the U.S. in 1983 – with the Apple iPhone debuting in 2007.  Wait – 2007? That was barely more than 10 years ago. Mobile devices are a perfect example of how the power of thinking forward, of focusing on technology and innovation, can make life easier.

The automotive industry is in the midst of such a dynamic and exciting time. Everywhere you look, technology is changing the work of sales and service, turning what was once time-consuming and expensive tasks into a seamless and efficient experience.

And that’s just the start: on the horizon are implementations of proven technology such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), facial recognition, predictive data, Augmented Reality (AR) and more. Surely, however, not everything will be effective or profitable. For example, promising innovations such as Blockchain haven’t quite taken over the automotive world. In fact, understanding what will work to deliver a satisfying and profitable customer experience is why thinking forward is important. To think forward is to look through a new solution or process and ask three critical questions:

Does it Create, or Help to Create Exceptional Experiences?

This the point: creating a service or sales experience that delights customers is item #1 on the must-have list. Otherwise, there’s no point. And that includes the fundamental concept of core competency. An innovation must be able to produce an exceptional experience long after the install date. To that end, a strategic feature set and UX updates are important considerations.

Truth is, creating an exceptional experience increasingly relies on data – much of which is easily available. That type of good data should power human interaction through predictive learning. Current sensor data, information about warranty repair, frequency of service, issues and recall notifications can be aggregated and used for predictive maintenance opportunities. Ultimately, today and tomorrow’s tech must be customer-focused on a predictive and anticipatory experience, one that helps to make customers feel wanted, important and cared for.

Does it Maximize Service Utilization and Efficiency?

Workflow efficiency and transparency is the bookend benefit to go with the experience. It’s a fundamental point about the value of technology and one that must be present in order for the value of the technology to always be greater than the cost. If not, profitability suffers and innovation stalls.

And while that includes the fundamental idea of reducing time at task, it also includes a more important consideration: how much time does technology add to your interaction with customers? The true and real value of technology is not only how much time it saves your service advisor, but how much more in sales and relationship-building happens as a result of that practical efficiency.

During a time of shrinking margins and hyper-competition, increased retention and improved survey scores are fundamental profit builders. Increasingly, that starts with as-needed training, transparency of workflow and the ease of making a change to improve utilization.  

NADA Session: Service Department Effectiveness for the 21st Century

Will the Innovation Fit in an Undecided Future?

Lately, there’s been a lot of progress made toward a future of autonomous vehicles, subscription vehicle services and electric cars. All three of which, with scale and staying power, would have a tremendous impact on all dealership departments. True, they could be just ships in the night, trends that pass in favor of full-size trucks.

But maybe not, and maybe they will wind up benefiting dealers with new streams of revenue. For example, the recent announcement of Waymo One, a self-driving rideshare program launched in the Phoenix, Arizona area, will likely create new layers of a service business for dealers. Would that investment be worth it?

Thinking forward through today’s demand for faster and better service – and to tomorrow’s promise of more powerful solutions – is a critical component in analyzing how dealerships should be positioning technology. It requires a total tech approach that includes updates and training, as well as education on an ongoing basis.

Thinking Forward: Our Commitment

Here at Dealer-FX, thinking forward about the future of automotive ownership is an essential part of our philosophy. Indeed, “Thinking Forward” about how technology helps to power exceptional experiences is what we do, and why we’re able to develop effective technology such as ONE Platform.

That’s technology that enables you to manage every stage of service and the customer experience through mobile applications, data-driven insights, and powerful analytics.

It’s also an example of how technology is making customers more satisfied, employees more efficient and dealerships more profitable. That’s Thinking Forward — and as the industry evolves toward a more tech-driven future, Dealer-FX will be there to help support, guide and provide the best technology for dealers across North America.

Every day, customers come and go through the dealership service drive, the happy result of effective sales and digital marketing efforts that span all aspects of your business.

Increasingly, that flow of business is dictated by online activity. Indeed, according to Google, 4-in-5 customers use search engines to find information before making a purchase decision – the first stop on a journey that will take them to your website.

Dealer-FX Connect Digital Marketing

While the use of websites, search and social media is a fact of life, dealership efforts to market across these channels can be frustrating. Here are three simple, realistic and affordable things your team can do to help improve your store’s digital marketing efforts:

#1: Start a Customer Success Blog

Success stories happen at your dealership service department every day – and many are worth sharing. The customer who came in over the weekend with an unexpected repair need, or the harried commuter who must squeeze a service appointment between three meetings and a soccer practice…all are potential stories that accurately depict the commitment your team makes to deliver excellent customer service. The key is consistency: decide how you plan to write up the story, who will do it, and how often. Just once a month is a perfect start.

The tough part? Commitment. Stick to it for one year and support it as a priority. You’ll be glad you did, because showcasing customer success stories is a powerful way to use digital marketing to show the value your dealership provides. It also helps to improve overall search results to your dealership website and illustrates how your service department actively cares and shares their good work. Connect the blog to your website service pages, and online appointment section, so that potential customers will see the stories while they’re looking for service pricing and appointment tools.

#2: Tell Your Service Story

Your website is a vital sales and marketing tool – and that goes double for the service department. In general, potential customers value dealership service departments because of the expertise they provide and the value-add of better customer service.

That doesn’t mean they’re just going to show up, however: customers look for confirmation that they’ll get what they’re looking for when they visit your website. Show them just how strong your team is by adding a service-related content to your “About Us” page on your website. Add a section about certifications that shows just how much a technician needs to know about your vehicles before they get the tools out. Illustrate your service commitment and benefits, such as free wi-fi, available loaner vehicles, shuttles, and more.

Sure, independent shops may be able to beat you on price. But they can’t beat the expertise of your team or the value of your service. Show that where it matters most, on your dealer website and via digital marketing. That’s where many customers make their minds up about where to go.

#3: Think Search, SEO and Google E.A.T

When it comes to revenue and profit, service departments are often the foundation of your dealership. That’s common knowledge. But they’re also a major pillar to the overall success of your digital campaigns, whether meant to boost ROs or new car sales.

Why? Search. According to Google, 53% of searchers click on the first organic result – and 25% click on the second or third result. The fact is that Google and Bing control the traffic flow of vast numbers of potential customers. That makes it vitally important to produce parts and service-related content, invest in Search Engine Marketing (SEM) to drive targeted traffic to your website and commit to a consistent social media approach – including just primary channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The importance of SEO and SEM just can’t be overstated when it comes to using digital marketing. And it’s something that requires expertise in the space. For example, over the past few years it has become clear just how important authoritative content is to Google search rankings. The company uses the acronym E.A.T to gauge the level of Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness found on a website – especially for commerce websites that promote the sale and service of complicated products – like cars. Google’s E.A.T rating impacts the quality rating of your dealership’s website, which ultimately dictates ranking in good and bad ways. Here’s a basic overview:

Expertise: Show your skill and expertise. As in #2 above, use service to prove your expertise. It’s vital to build content on your service pages that support the expertise found at your service drive every day.

Authoritativeness: If your website has a service forum or community, actively monitor the conversation in terms of quality; nonsense threads will bring down your authority score. In addition, consider adding short bios about your service manager and senior service employees. Google likes to see authority!

Trustworthiness: Consider adding basic service pricing to your website. Your customers will appreciate it, and it may help improve search results thanks to Google’s “T” in E.A.T. At a minimum, make sure your website has an active SSL certificate.

How Can Dealer-FX Help?

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? Click here to learn more about Dealer-FX Connect.

In today’s digital world, customers are connected and in control, so it’s no surprise their expectations have changed.

To keep customers happy and coming back, dealerships need to think differently about technology, customer touchpoints and service department culture. Service departments should be customer-focused and process-oriented, and leverage technology that allows the entire service department to be connected. That way, the department delivers a frictionless experience that elevates the customer experience.

Change Starts at the Advisor Level

Effective change can take place on the service drive with proper training and incentives that ensure everyone is aligned with the new digital service department. This whitepaper provides tips on how to deliver a digital and world-class experience at the service drive by adopting a comprehensive service delivery platform, transforming the department culture — and more.

Click here to download the free Whitepaper.

How Can Dealer-FX Help?

At Dealer-FX, our mission is to help automotive 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?
Click here to learn more about Dealer-FX.

 

The days are getting shorter, the air crisper, and playoff baseball is at hand. Which means there’s one question on everyone’s mind:

Is this when new vehicle sales start to slide, and the Service Department comes in from the bullpen for the save?

The answer, apparently, is that it “depends.” Comparing September sales to last year’s hurricane-fueled sales rally doesn’t exactly paint an accurate picture – especially when new car sales estimates remain over 17 million units. Still, there’s little doubt that overall sales are headed toward a year-end fade. As such, we’ve spotted a few trends and stories that might help you prepare for a challenging final quarter – and a successful start to 2019.

September New Vehicle Sales Declined 5.5%. Is it Time to Worry?

What: Automotive News calls it a second-half slowdown, and while that’s true enough there are a few interesting wrinkles in the story. Let’s start with a Harvey hangover from last year’s hurricane replacement business. Indeed, sales bettered the predicted 7% drop in sales and registered a 17.54 million SAAR as well – the fourth highest September on record. Still, the signs are clear: piles of discount dollars aren’t sparking buyer interest like earlier in the year.

Takeaway: It’s time to fire up the Service Closer. Service is the key to retention – something vitally important during slow sales cycles – and offers a sturdy profit center you can count on. It’s also a good source of new vehicle sales… if you’re prepared to leverage it. Are you leveraging customer data and mobile technology to build relationships at the service drive? Using the right tools to create a “right time” and consultative approach improves profitability, increases retention and lowers the cost of new vehicle customer acquisition.

Future of Mobility - Dealer-FX

Is the Future of Mobility Robots and Ride-Hailing, or Same as it Ever Was?

What: Earlier this month, National Automobile Dealer Association (NADA) Chairman Wes Lutz took aim at the future of mobility, questioning the logic behind some very common assumptions like the emergence of autonomous cars and the effectiveness of ride-hailing services. According to Lutz, humans are actually quite safe on the road when you consider that we drive 90 million miles per traffic fatality. In regard to services such as Lyft and Uber, he pointed to a recent AAA study that showed using ride-hailing services cost more than twice as much.

Takeaway: Dealership business models are evolving. As such, the Service Department will play an increasingly important role in driving profitability and retention. Whether or not people use ride-hailing apps, buy their own car, opt for a subscription service or just go back to taking the bus, as options increase so too does the opportunity for the entire dealership operation to thrive. Things are definitely changing. And as they do, dealer managers will see increased Service opportunities to build relationships and drive efficiencies.

Speaking of Mobility, What About EVs — and their Impact to Service?

What: A recent study by UPS and GreenBiz offers good insights into fleet perspectives about EVs. That’s yet another one of those “future mobility” topics. Survey results found that environmental benefits and lower cost of ownership were the greatest drivers behind fleet interest: Over 80 percent cited sustainability, and 64% said that the expected lower total cost of ownership was a major factor.

Takeaway: The cost of ownership benefit includes direct and indirect costs over the life of the vehicle. That includes things such as fuel economy, but it’s also an expectation that EVs will require less maintenance than traditional vehicles. Indeed, according to InsideEVs, fewer components means fewer issues and less need for service. For service managers, it’s more complicated: As EVs begin to gain critical mass, dealerships may well have to factor in training and cost of electric service procedures; all of which may make the typical repair order more costly — but less frequent.

Slower Sales Call for Focus – and Creative Solutions

What: A recent series by Automotive News that features dealer success stories during the Great Recession. It chronicles what many dealers did to thrive under terrible sales conditions. For example, Ohio dealer Rhett Ricart improved team morale, while others focused on creating a better customer service and repair experience – an approach that has certainly reaped dividends today.

Takeaway: You don’t have to open a deluxe car wash.  however, slow sales offer a good opportunity to focus on retention and customer service. Indeed, consider what many studies have reported over the years: Around 70% of recent car buyers will use a third-party repair shop for service.

Trends like that can change through simple steps, such as introducing the service department to car buyers towards the end of the sale and connecting the sales team to opportunities at the service drive. It’s a fundamental fact that service departments can generate more than 50% of a dealership’s profit; as a result, keeping buyers connected throughout the entire process is a vital step toward thriving during a sales slump.

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?

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