Are Service Department Hours in Line with Customer Needs?

service department

Call tracking and lead management provider, CallSource, analyzed 106 million inbound phone calls to dealerships over three years. Of those calls, more than three-quarters of those calls were for the service department. It’s an incredible number of phone calls every day by customers looking for maintenance and repair appointments or questions answered.

During working hours, 1 in 20 calls went unanswered. While it’s troublesome that any calls go unanswered at all during business hours, it pales in comparison to the number of calls that aren’t picked up between the time the lights are dimmed and the time the store re-opens. That’s a statistic that’s not tracked as easily, but BDC provider Detroit Trading has identified consumer call patterns that point to one thing: customers are trying to reach the dealership when it’s not open. 

Customer Contact After Hoursservice department

Between the hours of 5PM and 9PM on weekdays and from 8AM to 9PM on the weekends, there are consistent attempts to contact the dealership by customers. Whether by phone, email, or an AI-powered chat, these time frames tend to be a busy segment for dealers.

For customers reaching out to sales, conversion rates are extremely high when they receive a prompt response – nearly 50 percent. For service customers, there often isn’t the quick reply. The customer must wait until the dealership reopens to get a call back, and that’s particularly tough if they don’t leave a phone message.

Related: Building A Vibrant Service Department

How It Hurts 

Customers trying to reach the service department after hours could be one of the factors driving them to seek aftermarket solutions. Dealers typically shutter their service drives after normal business hours – 6pm is rather common. Aftermarket or quick-lube shops are in business until 8pm or 9pm, sometimes later.

Unless that customer is loyal to someone at the dealership in sales or service, there’s a window of opportunity for them to look for an alternate service solution. 

What Dealerships Can Do

The service department model in the average dealer is staffed by trained technicians during ‘banker’s hours’. Service advisors open that window a little further, but not by much. One option is to explore longer working service hours, but in the climate today, techs have the bargaining advantage. If you aren’t able to have the doors open during those high-volume contact times, it would be prudent to find an alternate option to engage those clients. 

Web Chat

Online chat options have come a long way in a short time. Rather than necessitating someone on the other end, an AI-powered chatbot can engage a customer that’s trying to make contact online. Through AI, chatbots constantly adapt to improve language and communication for a natural-sounding chat with the customer. It lets you gather their contact information and put them at ease until someone from service can respond to their concern.

Admittedly, online isn’t the most popular method for customers to contact the service department but it is growing. It’s a good strategy to implement during the early stages. 

service department24-Hour BDC Provider

For phone calls coming in to the service department, a BDC provider should be in place to field the call. There’s a good chance you have this in place for the sales department already, so expanding it for the service department isn’t a stretch.

Every customer who tries to reach service, during business hours or not, should be able to speak to a live person (or at least a chatbot that pretends to be one). Plug the hole that allows customers to look for an alternate solution to their service concerns during off hours.

Related: Pros and Cons of a 4-Day Work Week for Service Technicians



Did you enjoy this article from Jason Unrau? Read other articles from him here.

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