83% of dealerships agree that customer satisfaction increases significantly when customers receive tailor-made services. How can aftersales teams deliver the personal touch at scale when they’re so busy all of the time?
If you’re a dealer who thought that their customers were only interested in a cheap price and a fast turnaround, you may be in for a shock. Our research into the priorities and challenges of car dealerships and their customers showed that customers who receive a personalised service when they visit the dealership are far more likely to report better satisfaction – and to remain loyal to their dealership.
The question is, how do you deliver that personal touch when your staff are so busy? It can feel like an impossible task to make everyone feel special. In this blog, I want to share with you 4 quick things you can do, with the right tools, to deliver the personal touch at scale.
Tip 1: use customer data to personalise communications
Your DMS holds a wealth of data on customers. You’ll have access to details on their service history, the type of car, how old it is – all of these things can be used to show the customer that you know them.
This could be as simple as a personalised message on the day of the service: "Hi Sam, my name is Jon and I'll be looking after you while we service your Jaguar F-Type today."
You could even go for something more advanced: let's say your customer had an advisory on their MOT to replace their tyres soon. You could plan a message to be sent a month or two after the MOT saying "Hi Sam, it's Jon here from Jon's Jaguar Dealership. Your MOT revealed that your tyres needed replacing soon; have you done it yet? Let me know if you'd like us to take care of it for you."
For this to work, you will need to make sure that your service advisors can quickly access DMS information when speaking to a customer – ideally without having to click through multiple windows on their computer.
Tip 2: be proactive in your comms
That data in your systems will tell you, among other things, when your customers are due for a service or an MOT. There’s nothing stopping you from contacting them to remind them that these are due. It shows the customer that you remember them, and you are looking out for them – and of course makes it more likely they’ll show up for the service or MOT.
You could do this in any number of ways – an email, a call, even a text. Ideally, something that your service advisors can type (or even something automated) would be preferable, as this enables the aftersales team to communicate faster with customers.
Tip 3: automate – carefully
I just mentioned automating reminders about MOTs and services. Of course, automation can make your communications seem very impersonal if done wrong – but that doesn’t mean there’s no place for automation. Take the MOT or service reminder, for instance. Customers are used to receiving automated reminders for lots of things; it won’t feel that strange to have an automated reminder about their MOT (especially if you craft the message so it feels genuine). And the fact that they’re getting personalised reminders outweighs the fact that those reminders haven’t all been hand-crafted.
On the other hand, messages regarding specific issues identified during a service are NOT good ideas to automate. That’s the time for service advisors to communicate with customers themselves, ensuring they can manage any surprise or indignation from customers if they’re having to pay for more than they expected. It’s worth considering that, by automating other messages currently sent by service advisors, you free up your service advisors to focus on more sensitive matters, further improving customer service.
Tip 4: use technology to boost response times
Nothing makes a customer feel less valued than hold music. Dealerships that can eliminate customers sitting on hold will go a long way towards making their customers feel cared for.
I’ve written before about ways to solve this challenge, but in summary: consider moving away from phone-based conversations altogether. Text-based communications might feel less personal, but the truth can be just the opposite. If service advisors can communicate with customers over a web chat or similar interface, they’ll be able to respond to queries faster – giving them more time to focus on providing the best service possible. They can also handle multiple conversations at once without the customer noticing a dip in service quality.
A digital-first solution
It’s fair to say that some of these recommendations are hard to implement when you’re still relying on the phone to talk to customers. Moving away from traditional communication methods is important to dealerships for a variety of reasons – not least being able to deliver a personalised service at scale.
"Text-based communications might feel less personal, but the truth can be just the opposite."
Our research showed that 72% of dealership customers want to communicate online with their dealership, and that 84% of dealerships say customers expect a near-immediate response to their queries. It’s plain that customers want to be able to talk to their dealership in the same way they talk to anyone else in their life – and that means that dealerships who continue to stick with the phones risk losing out to more tech-savvy competitors.
Download our 2021 Dealership Customer Engagement Report now.