Enhancing the Ownership Experience
In an age where customer expectations require immediate information and results, consistency is imperative to the customer-dealer relationship. This concept is nothing new but the process—and transitioning customer service practices—may be.
A recent study by The Polk Company revealed that service advisors play a major role in creating brand loyalty and customer satisfaction, with key factors being the service experience (19.4%), the reliability of the vehicle’s service (27.9%) and the overall attitude of the staff (35.2%). This is great news for dealerships, as it means that they are in control of customer relationships. The question is, how to win more service business, integrate point-of-service solutions and manage the appointment volume?
Consider this scenario: a customer calls to schedule an oil change. Not having the customer’s VIN number or other vital information at their fingertips, and knowing that the next few weeks in the service department are swamped with larger jobs with higher RO opportunities. The person taking the call is reluctant to book a smaller job. Feeling not taken care of, the customer decides not to wait any longer to service the car and instead takes his or her business to the aftermarket—not only resulting in a customer loss, but also harming dealership reputation and profitability.
Thankfully, this can all be avoided. The key is the vehicle ownership experience.
So many technologies exist today to enable a rich customer service; however, choosing platforms that integrate customer touch points into one great premium experience will deliver that competitive edge dealerships need. Xtime’s Scheduling 7 supplements the in-person customer experience of the service lane by enabling everyone in the dealership—service managers, advisors and call center personnel—to book appointments, ensuring that even a high volume of appointments can be accommodated and shop capacity maximized.
Adding to the customer-centric aspect of today’s on-demand consumers is Scheduling 7’s ability to capture demand no matter where it comes from, allowing customers to book service appointments from their phones, computers, tablets or in-dash telematics systems. The customer’s appointment time has been secured—great! But the experience doesn’t end with business being captured. Instant access to accurate customer information to boost RO value and CSI, as well as transparency to the vehicle’s needs at every touch point, empowers service advisors and customers alike.
Xtime’s Check-In 7 utilizes the Xtime Cloud platform to provide information such as factory service menus, recommendations and pricing and service history right in the service drive. From appointment scheduling with ease to greeting customers in a timely manner to a consistent write-up process and efficient walk-arounds, Scheduling 7 and Check-In 7 deliver a powerful personalized service drive experience and ethical upselling opportunities to capture a higher—but manageable—business volume.
Best Practices: Scheduling the Important First Appointment
First appointments are imperative to a dealership’s retention when booked within the first year of car ownership, but that rate climbs even higher if a first appointment is booked within the first five days of a sale. In other words, it’s well worth the effort to get that first appointment booked as soon as possible to keep customers in the loyalty loop.
There are several acceptable routes to booking first appointments. In the spirit of first impressions, the delivery of a new car to a customer is the perfect time for a sales-to-service handoff, wherein the new car owner can tour the service drive. This gives the service advisor or salesperson the opportunity to acclimate the customer to processes and facilities, after which he or she can say, “Now that you’ve seen the service drive, how about we book your first appointment?”
Building trust from the beginning is just one technique for retention through first appointments. Here are some best practices for booking that important first appointment:
- Getting started. Scheduling an appointment is easy with Xtime! Simply review your dealership’s website with your customer and click on the Schedule Service link to get started.
- Select service. Have the customer take control of their car’s well-being by selecting from a list of dealer- and factory-recommended services.
- Suggest a time. Recommend the customer to avoid scheduling the first appointment on a Saturday, when the service drive is usually the busiest. If convenient, have him or her pick a less hectic time slot, such as a weekday afternoon.
- Review and book. Be sure the customer’s information has been entered correctly into the system, including first and last name, email address and the best phone number.
- Finish registration. Registration is now complete! Have the customer pick a username and password to book future appointments.
- Set notifications. Set email alerts so that your customer receives notifications 1 to 2 weeks prior to a first appointment. Be sure to follow up with a phone call to notify the customer directly.
- Print confirmations. Print two copies of the first appointment confirmation: one for the sales jacket and one for the customer.
Digital Dealer 20 Conference and Expo
Currently, there are at least four aftermarket stores for every dealership, with dealerships experiencing a 50% defection rate after the second or third service visit. To alleviate such situations, dealerships can utilize integrated platforms that deliver a premium customer service experience that modern consumers expect, if not demand.
At the upcoming Digital Dealer Conference & Expo, Oct. 5-7, in Las Vegas, Xtime Senior Vice President of Marketing & Managed Services Jim Roche will host the “A Comprehensive Service Experience Impacts Loyalty & Profits” workshop. There, he will discuss how creating a premium ownership experience drives customer loyalty and profitability in today’s competitive marketplace.
Service Star: Vaden of Beaufort
The managers at Vaden of Beaufort in South Carolina are firm believers in bringing technology to the service drive in order to compete in today’s market. Vaden’s success with Xtime’s Check-In 7 stems from the use of the tablet in the service drive, helping them build trust and transparency with customers while also setting benchmarks for their service advisors (presently, Vaden experiences a 95% tablet utilization rate). We sat down with Corporate Fixed Operations Director Dawn Newsome and Service Manager Christina Adams as they revisit the reason they chose Check-In 7 and how the product has helped their business.
Let’s talk before and after. How did you manage your dealership prior to Xtime and what problem were you trying to solve?
[Dawn] Prior to Xtime we used our DMS to manage the walk-around process and service process. By bringing Xtime in, we were hoping to create a more personalized experience for the customers on the service drive, as well as provide advisors with a tool that helped them engage with the customers more. Check-In 7 helps with management by giving [service advisors] reporting tools that keeps them accountable with different segments that they can measure for the walk-around process.
What were some challenges your service drive faced prior to your partnership with Xtime?
[Dawn] Prior to our partnership with Xtime, our service drive struggled to engage customers, as well as educate customers, throughout the walk-around process. For us in the automotive industry, we walk into a dealership every day and it’s second nature to us to service a car. But sometimes the customers don’t readily know what is happening or what the next step is. With Check-In 7, it gave us a tool that would help the advisor engage the customers so they would know through each step what was happening in the walk-around process.
How does Check-In 7 help you better allocate the time spent with each car and customer?
[Dawn] Check-In 7 helps our advisors allocate their time with each customer as they come through the write-up process because it is segmented into different areas: check-in, walk-around, inspection and review. As a dealer group, we set standards and benchmarks for our advisors. We help our managers better manage by reporting to determine if the advisor is spending the right amount of time with the customer in order to build rapport and value in our products and processes to create future sales.
How does the Xime platform allow you to operate as a modern dealership in a competitive market?
[Christina] Xtime helps us become a modern dealership with the technology it offers; without that, we were doing everything on paper and pen and it did not look good to the customers. The technology we brought in with [tablets] has helped with this situation.
What do your colleagues say about Xtime?
[Christina] Our partnership with Xtime has been successful because we hold our advisors accountable. By doing so, we can make more money in service drive and build better relationships with customers, and our CSI has increased as well.
[Dawn] Our partnership with Xtime began several years ago, when we started using the CRM for our centralized call center. Throughout our relationship, Xtime has helped us tailor their program to benefit our dealer group, so I felt confident when we signed up for Check-In 7 that we would experience the same level of service and flexibility with the business model—and we have.
What would you say to a dealership that is hesitant to implement Xtime’s solutions?
[Christina] I would advise anyone who is hesitant to go to a dealership using Xtime to see the process and how it works.
[Dawn] I would say to anyone interested in Check-In 7 that it is going to help your team become more efficient in the service drive and to help them know what to do from step A to step Z. In today’s market, you have to bring technology into your service drive in order to compete with other dealerships.