Aftersales has long been the bread and butter for both independent and franchised repair outlets. How do you make sure that you're always improving the experience for your customers?
Long thought of as the stalwart of the customer relationship, aftersales custom continues to be hard fought for between the independent network and the franchised sector.
With the Society of Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) reporting that independents meet the aftercare needs of 64% of the 30 million vehicles on the road (2016), and are predicted to take 70% of the market by 2022, laurel resting is tempting. Considering the average age of cars on UK roads has increased from 6.8 in 2003 to 7.8 in 2015 and older vehicles largely being the domain of the independent sector for servicing, repairs and maintenance, the horizon looks very rosy for independents.
In fact, both independents and the franchised sector could make inroads by focusing on their customer experience.
One of the major issues highlighted by consumers in Cox Automotive’s 2018 Service Industry Study was the amount of time motorists spent at the dealership for routine servicing and maintenance. The most satisfied service customers spent 2.5 hours or less at the dealership.
Dealers should actively look at ways to reduce the amount of time customers spend at the dealership perhaps by staggering drop-off and collection times or by operating more booked time slots.
Obtaining as much information as possible prior to the visit can reduce the time it takes to book the car in on the day, just don’t ask the same questions twice or you risk delivering a worse customer experience rather than making it better.
Another concern was cost with consumers resentful at being ‘sold’ additional work when at the dealership.
Given that the study also found cross-selling was on the up with more than half of all visits to an aftersales department resulting in two or more services and most including an oil change, being more upfront about services or maintenance work due on a vehicle before the customer visit is likely to improve satisfaction levels.
Fear of being overcharged was third on the list of consumer top niggles with vehicle servicing (after unreasonable cost and not a convenient location and ahead of unreasonable labour charges and unreasonable parts costs). Transparent pricing both online and in-store will help put customers’ minds at rest and keep them coming back.
We’ve mentioned it before, but we’ll say it again, respond to any issues immediately whether raised directly or on social media. Customer feedback initiatives after a visit will provide an insight into trends and help pinpoint areas of weakness.
Consumers inevitably check out reviews before purchasing so a slew of excellent reviews is a confidence builder but don’t be tempted to whittle out the not-so-good or authenticity will be rightly questioned. Better still, utilise the services of an independent customer review company.
Crucially, dealers should not be waiting for customers to contact them to book a service. Keeping in touch at key moments in the ownership cycle will boost loyalty, and ultimately profits.