Whether it’s instant messaging apps, mobile games designed to keep users hooked with constant rewards, or watching the likes rack up on a social media post, humans are becoming less content to wait for a response.
In fact, 84% of aftersales managers are finding that customers expect a near-immediate response to queries, according to our research conducted in 2020.
I’ve written previously about how customers are expecting dealerships to respond faster and faster – and how dealerships are struggling to keep up. A big part of the challenge is the tools that service advisors are using. Our research found that 80% of customer advisors are using the phone as their primary communication method – and plainly, the phone is fraught with challenges as a communication tool.
Firstly, it relies on both parties being free at the same time (as anyone who has played ‘phone tennis’ with another person, leaving voicemails for each other, can attest). Secondly, it’s just slower as a way of communicating compared to typing.
In this blog post, I want to share some ideas for how service advisors can speed up the way they communicate with customers, and thus increase customer satisfaction.
1: Ditch the phones
First and foremost, service advisors need to switch from using phones as their primary contact method to using a more digital solution. 72% of customers want to be able to communicate online with their dealership, like they do with other services in their life. Email is one option – though it can still be hit-and-miss depending on whether the customer of the service advisor checks their mail. Instant messaging is another option that combines the speed of typing with the conversational nature of a phone call.
"72% of customers want to be able to communicate online with their dealership, like they do with other services in their life."
2: Implement an audit trail
93% of aftersales departments we spoke to said that it would be valuable to have an audit trail of all communications. The benefits of auditable communications are multiple – but from a customer service perspective, it enables any service advisor to see what has already been said when they are speaking with a customer. That means no more looking on someone’s desk for handwritten notes, or asking customers to re-explain their problem. Both of those mean service advisors can serve customers faster – and better.
3: Make it proactive, not reactive
80% of the service advisors we spoke to said that “customers calling for a status update form the majority of our inbound phone calls.” Obviously, if those calls could be eliminated, then service advisors could give a faster response to those customers who do still need to speak on the phone. One way to remove those calls is to implement proactive communications, telling customers when their car is being looked at, when it’s ready, or if there are any issues that are taking longer than expected to resolve.
These types of communications are ideal candidates for automation – so instead of the service advisor manually telling every customer where their car is up to, a system automatically messages them at key points in the service.
Speed and the personal touch - getting the balance right
Of course, we all know that fast service doesn’t always equate to good service. Customers don’t want to feel like you’re hurrying them, or that they aren’t valuable to you. With that in mind, it can feel like adopting a new way of handling customer service enquiries is a big risk.
The key to getting it right is to look at areas where responding to customers faster doesn’t compromise their experience with you. Take the idea of sending automated messages to customers. It might feel impersonal to send an automated message, but the truth is that consumers are used to automated messages for certain things. Not every message needs to be hand-crafted.
Time to trial digital tools
Plainly, adding these capabilities into your customer service workflows will require the adoption of some new technology. Most DMS offer some communications tools, but our research reveals that dealers only rate their DMS as a 6/10 for its effectiveness as a communication tool; nearly 1 in 5 dealers say their DMS is NOT an effective communication tool.
I hope this blog has given you some ideas for what to look for when evaluating a new system to enable your service advisors to help customers faster. But of course, speedier comms is just one part of increasing customer satisfaction – and therefore revenue. Learn more about what makes your customers happy by downloading our research whitepaper, 2021 Dealership Customer Satisfaction Report.