Dealership fixed operations departments play a key role in customer satisfaction and retention. They not only provide an opportunity to boost dealerships’ profitability and help to establish customer loyalty, bringing customers back to the dealership for future purchases.
To keep dealership customers coming back and boost customer satisfaction index (CSI) scores, service departments must streamline their processes and understand what customers want when bringing vehicles in for service. Here’s what successful fixed operations departments do to improve CSI and retention:
1. Put convenient appointment scheduling at the customer’s fingertips. Enable customers to quickly and easily schedule service appointments via your website. Make it easy to schedule convenient times, and they’ll be much more likely to set up those appointments and keep coming back for service. An efficient, automated system that incorporates technician availability and the ability to request vehicle pickup and delivery eliminates any excuse a customer might have for not scheduling service or canceling at the last minute.
2. Create a consistent and transparent service lane process. When it comes to efficient and effective customer service, consistency, and transparency are key. Train your advisors on a process that includes:
A) Friendly customer interaction
B) A thorough vehicle walk-a-round
C) Prompts for information gathering and service suggestions.
Your service lane is where you meet the customer, so make sure you’re employing an engaging experience that affords not only opportunities for sales but also honest and transparent communication.
One of the best ways to do this is to offer customers options in selecting repairs, service contracts, and products. Provide a detailed menu of options for the repair order and clear information about which repairs are urgent, which can wait, which service contracts you recommend and why, and more. This requires a comprehensive system that collects all necessary vehicle information as well as your department’s labor and parts information.
3) Improve internal and customer communications. Implement a system by which advisors, parts staff, and technicians can communicate with each other as well as with the customer — and make sure there’s a clear record of that communication. That creates accountability among staff and ensures the customer is never left wondering about vehicle status.
4) Create consistent service lane processes for optimal efficiency. Following a clear and documented process that demands internal and external communication means fewer errors and miscommunications. More often than not, vehicles get fixed right the first time, increasing customer satisfaction and retention. That doesn’t mean there won’t be errors, but there’s less likelihood of them occurring. When they do, advisors can make sure everyone knows it’s a priority customer.
5) Build trust with honesty and service menus. You want to take advantage of sales opportunities but not at the expense of eroding the customer’s trust. Train service advisors to present repair options honestly, helping customers understand which maintenance and repairs are urgent and which can wait. Work toward an electronic repair proposal with clear information about warranties and good, better, and best purchase options.
Organizing the information this way boosts customer satisfaction because it empowers the customer to choose which recommended services to approve and eliminates “hard sell” talk between advisors and customers. In fact, it also increases profits. Customers tend to approve 30% more services when presented and approved electronically.
6) Speed up approval and payment processes. Implement a system that enables customers to approve and pay electronically, so they can pick up their vehicle and get back on the road sooner. Send invoices via text or email, with an option for remote pay. You’ll not only collect payments faster and cultivate happy customers. According to the 2021 J.D. Power Customer Service Index (CSI) Study™, remote payment increased CSI scores by 44 points for premium customers and 69 points for mass-market customers versus paying a cashier.