On the face of it, mobile phone providers and car dealerships feel like totally different businesses. But when it comes to dealing with customers, there’s a thing or two that car dealerships could learn from phone providers.
What are we talking about? Recent research from Autino has revealed some interesting insights into what is driving customer satisfaction for dealerships. 86% of service managers strongly agree that that customer satisfaction increases significantly when customers receive tailor-made services. At the same time, 70% agreed that customers want easier ways of managing their booking. The questions is, how do you provide a personal service to customers that’s also easy for customers to manage? With so much going on, and with all your staff so busy, where do you add the personal touch?
Enter phone companies.
Want to get personal? Create an audit trail
If you’ve ever called up your phone provider, then you’ll know their system has its frustrations – from the hold music to the security details you can never seem to quite remember. But one thing that is good is that, no matter who you speak to, the person on the other end of the phone has a good idea of who you are and – if you’re calling about a previous issue – they know what happened the last time you called.
This is because they keep a detailed audit trail of communications with every customer. When they look you up in their system, they can see notes left after the previous call, and can use those to carry on the conversation. Increasingly, those systems will also aggregate data from other sources, such as chatbots, and of course your account activity – which they sometimes use to offer you upgrades to save you money.
In short: there’s no reason why you couldn’t implement a similar system in your dealership.
Instant familiarity with every customer
Think about it: in your dealership, there are so many conversations happening that it can be very hard for service advisors to keep track of who they are speaking to now, who they just spoke to – and who they spoke to an hour ago. If those details get lost, there’s a risk that a customer doesn’t get called back when they should – or even worse, a customer gets the wrong information.
You also have the common situation where a customer calls, but the service advisor they spoke to last time is now on a break – and the advisor they are speaking to now doesn’t know what’s already been said. So they have to ask the customer questions that, he customer has already answered, or go and find information from the shop floor that the previous service advisor already found. This is all very frustrating for customers – it wastes their time and makes them feel like their query is at risk of being forgotten.
These situations don’t give customer a tailored service, and risk annoying the customer – who of course, has things of their own to be getting on with.
It’s interesting to think that phone companies – which experience some of the highest customer churn of any industry – have these systems in place, when their entire business model assumes that most of their customers won’t stay for long. On the other hand, many industries that rely on building deep and personal customer relationships – including car dealerships – have been reluctant to take up these types of systems.
How long can you keep up?
Part of the reluctance to invest in new systems, I think, is rooted in a belief in the dealership’s staff. ‘My people are the best; they don’t need systems like that to give great service,’ the argument goes.
The truth is, that no matter how talented and dedicated your service advisors are, providing personalised service at scale is very difficult without technological help. The more customers pass through your dealership, the more details there are to keep track of, the more personal preferences to take care of. As your people start to reach their limit, you may see customer satisfaction start to plateau or even dip as customers notice the lack of personalisation – or mistakes that creep in.
If these aren’t problems you’re facing right now, that’s great news. But where do you want your dealerships to be 6 months from now, or a year from now? A growing business means a growing customer base; will your service advisors be in the best position to give all those customers the level of service you – and your customers – expect?
To discover the other advantages that can come from digitising your customer communications, check out our blog 3 ways to deal with customers who want their car NOW.
And to get a wider view of what the ideal customer journey in aftersales looks like, download our research white paper, 2021 Dealership Customer Engagement Report.