Generally speaking, customers don’t like visiting an auto repair facility. At best it means taking time out of a busy day for routine maintenance, and at worst it means costly repairs, and going without a vehicle until the repair is completed. At the outset, the cards are stacked against a positive customer experience.
That is not to say these obstacles cannot be overcome. Many dealership service departments have glowing reviews and a satisfied customer base. So, how is this accomplished?
A friendly smile, knowledgeable staff, and the ability to follow through on promises are all part of the game. However, a positive customer experience begins and ends with communication. Customers expect to understand the necessary repairs, possible causes, and estimated repair time. They also expect an intelligent explanation when things get delayed, or when there is a change in plans.
With modern technology, it is easier than ever to stay in constant contact with service customers. There are many notification services available that will send a message to the customer whenever there is an update to be had. If you prefer a more traditional approach, there is also the tried-and-true phone call method, although phone calls are generally considered more obtrusive for basic updates than a simple text.
Whatever method (or combination of methods) you choose, customers will appreciate knowing what is going on every step of the way.
If this doesn’t make sense, just think of Amazon, or any other top-tier e-commerce experience. If you don’t get constant tracking updates, information about possible delays, and confirmations when the package is delivered, you might start to worry.
Service customers are conditioned the same way. If it gets to be late afternoon on the day they are supposed to pick up their car, they might start to worry if there has been no communication, and will likely start calling the service department for an update. The aim of excellent customer communications should be to provide updates before the customer feels compelled to call and ask for an update.
With that in mind, here are some intervals where a notification would be appropriate:
Vehicle is pulled into a Service Bay – Once the customer knows their vehicle is actively getting worked on, the level of anxiety decreases dramatically. If a customer can get notified that their vehicle is no longer sitting in the parking lot, it will eliminate a lot of speculation.
Repair Parts Arrive – If the customer repair involves ordering parts not stocked at the dealership, it would be a good idea to let the customer know when these parts have arrived.
Notification of Delay – If something comes up that will delay the start of the repair, or will delay completion of the repair once started, customers should be notified. Experience shows that customers hate surprises, but are more forgiving if the surprise is communicated in real-time.
Repair Completion – Notification should be made as soon as the repair is completed. This shows consideration for the customer’s busy schedule and allows them as much time as possible pick up the vehicle. Communication at the completion of a complicated repair could also be followed up with a phone call, but a simple text notification is often sufficient for most routine services.
Invoice Total – Another nice touch would be a notification containing the final total for the repair. This will confirm with the customer what they are paying for, and will prevent surprises at the cashier.
All of these notifications will help the customer feel like they a part of the process. The notifications will reduce misunderstandings, and improve the overall customer experience.