Let’s take a virtual tour through a typical aftersales department for a moment. The aroma of fresh coffee wafts through the office, someone drops a bag of doughnuts onto the desk — it’s their birthday — sunlight drifts through the windows. Service advisors chat happily to customers, accompanied by the gentle tapping of keyboards.
Gary's never-ending quest for the perfect LinkedIn picture continues, much to the annoyance of his colleagues.
Gives you a warm buzz, doesn’t it? Take a closer look though.
The coffee’s going cold, and the doughnuts are starting to bake in the sun. Actually, some of those advisors don’t really look that happy — it’s not their fault the customer thought his car would be ready by now, but they’re the ones getting it in the neck. The tapping of keys is accelerating to a prestissimo, and the phones are RINGING OFF THE HOOK.
In the drive to deliver a great service, the aftersales manager lost sight of what’s important to customers — and they might be surprised to discover that’s not always a personalised message.
What do service customers really want?
When we surveyed dealerships and their customers recently, the first thing we discovered is that customer expectations are rising. For example, 94% of service advisors said that customers expect their car to be ready earlier than realistic, while 84% of aftersales managers say that customers increasingly expect a near-immediate response to requests.
A knee-jerk response to that might be to tell the team to get on the phones, make more calls, do everything faster. But we’ve already seen what that approach achieves — over-stressed advisors, customers still not happy.
Because what the research also showed is that customers don’t always want or need to speak to a human. With mobile phone ownership nudging towards 100% for UK households, smartphones especially have changed the way people expect to communicate. And that’s understandable — messages can impart information much quicker than a phone call, which requires both parties to be available at the same time.
These people are actually all having a lively, scintillating conversation with each other. The wonders of modern technology.
In fact, we discovered that 72% of dealership customers are interested in using digital tools — and it won’t surprise us at all to see that figure rise as digital communications become embedded in our lives.
"Letting them know the big end's gone?
Leave that to your service advisors."
Digital ≠ impersonal
We’re not suggesting for a minute that you depersonalise your customer comms — the survey showed that a personal touch is still incredibly important — but you can be selective about which messages to automate.
Reminders to book a routine service or MOT, and notifications about the status of a customer’s car, are great candidates for automation, as are upsales. Customers generally don’t need long conversations about routine matters, and a quick glance at the phone will generally suffice.
Letting them know the big end’s gone? Leave that to your service advisors.
Humans vs. robots
We’ve established that your customers are expecting a personal service, but they aren’t necessarily expecting to talk to a human — not every time.
The key to successful automation is to not try too hard to emulate the human touch. Think about the Apple tone of voice — warm, friendly, not disrespectful. We know that the messages we receive from companies like Apple aren’t written especially for us, but they still feel personal.
When we do need to speak to someone — whether that be an Apple Genius or a service advisor at our local dealership — it’s great to be able to do so knowing they are able to focus their attention on the problem at hand, not trying to deal with a dozen other enquiries at the same time.
Want to find out exactly what makes dealership customers tick? Check out our research white paper, 2021 Dealership Customer Engagement Report.
And if you’re ready to semi-automate your customer communications, take a look at CustomerLounge — an aftersales communication platform that enables customers to chat with service advisors in real time, receiving answers to queries faster and improving customer satisfaction.