How many times per week do your service advisors have to deal with customers who expect their car to be ready earlier than it is?
Perhaps the conversation goes something like this:
Customer: “Hi, I’m ringing to see if my BMW has been serviced yet?”
Service Advisor: “Hi there, I’m afraid it’s not due to be looked at until later today, sir.”
Customer: “But I dropped the car off with you three hours ago! Why hasn’t anyone looked at it yet?”
It’s a common scenario. In fact, our research into dealerships and their customers revealed that 94% of service advisors say customers expect that their car will be ready earlier than is realistic.
So, what can you do about it? After all, you can’t just wave a wand and have their car serviced in an instant. The workshop is a busy place where multiple jobs are being undertaken at any given moment.
The answer, as we’ll see, lies in communicating with the customer.
1: Proactively set expectations
Before the customer ever gets to the dealership, you can start to set expectations with informative and proactive communications. Try letting them know, the day before their service, that you’re looking forward to seeing them – and explain the process to them. Among the details like where to park and who to give the keys to, you can mention to them that the car may not be serviced the very second it arrives at the dealership – and give them an estimate of when it will be looked at, if at all possible.
This way, you’ve already warned the customer that the service may not be as quick as they were expecting.
“A message to say 'your car is next in line,' or 'your car is being serviced now,' and of course 'your car is ready for pickup' can help satisfy curious, antsy customers.”
2: Keep the communications up during the day
Most often, the call from a customer to see if their car is ready has been preceded by an hour of them checking their watch and asking themselves “what’s going on? Surely they’ve taken a look at it now!” So one way to keep them happy is to give them updates as and when things change. A message to say 'your car is next in line,' or 'your car is being serviced now,' and of course 'your car is ready for pickup' can help satisfy curious, antsy customers.
Communicating with customers mid-service can also be useful if the mechanics uncover any unexpected issues that need resolving – another cause of delays which can agitate customers. If you can let them know as soon as an issue is discovered, they’ll not only be more understanding about the time it’s taking to service their car – they also have the opportunity to sign off on extra costs before you hand them the final invoice.
3: Time to ditch the phones?
If you’re reading this blog and thinking “well that’s fine, but my service advisors are already incredibly busy. They haven’t got time to phone customers this often,” then I hear you. But it’s 2021; phone calls aren’t the only way to contact customers anymore.
Instant messaging can facilitate much faster conversations between customer service advisors and customers – and therefore enable your employees to talk to more people, more often. After all, a customer doesn’t need a five-minute phone call for a quick update – a short message, delivered to their phone, is just as effective.
It’s also more in line with how customers want to communicate in this day and age. Our survey revealed that 84% of dealership customers expect a near-immediate response to their queries, which is in large part driven by the rise of instant messaging platforms. Online businesses use chatbots to communicate with customers; people use WhatsApp to talk to friends; businesses use apps such as Microsoft Teams to give employees instant messaging features. Why not do the same with your customer service operations?
Better communication = better satisfaction
So often, situations with unhappy customers could have been fixed, in retrospect, with better communication. In the old days, that meant taking more time – which made it hard to give good service to growing numbers of customers. But now, the growing capabilities and acceptance of messaging technologies means that you can actually increase communications with customers and save time.
The result? Increased customer satisfaction, and increased efficiency in your customer service team.
Great customer experiences are at the heart of successful dealerships. But as we’ve seen in this blog, what makes a great experience is changing. Want to get ahead of the curve? Download the Dealership Customer Engagement Report 2021 now, or get in touch with our team.