The current inventory shortage presents a problem for dealership service departments. Fewer new vehicle sales will translate to fewer service customers in the coming years. This means it is more important than ever to focus on customer retention in the service department.

Yet, in most dealerships, service staff are too busy to keep in touch with customers. While service marketing partners can help, blanket campaigns lack the personalization that your customers expect, and BDC outreach campaigns can get expensive. After all, the average service customer database contains tens of thousands of customers. How can you possibly stay in touch with all of them?

Enter artificial intelligence (AI). An AI virtual assistant can work non-stop in a dealership’s database, re-engaging old customers and keeping in touch with current customers. Additionally, AI works seamlessly across email, chat, and text platforms to maximize opportunities for customer engagement.

These specific service communications are ideal for AI assistance.

Engage customers who have been in for service who have not returned

Dealers can set their own parameters for when previous service customers should be contacted, for example after six months. Your AI assistant will find these customers and send personalized, friendly emails designed to entice them back into your service department. Special offers can be included with emails as an extra incentive.

Follow up with customers who have declined recommended services

marketingYour service writers should be doing this, but this is one of those tasks that gets pushed to the back burner. However, your AI assistant doesn’t have a back burner. It can keep dozens of front burners going all at once. A persistent communications funnel is key here. If a customer has any questions about the service needed, your AI assistant can set up a phone call and/or pass the customer to someone who can help.

Send service and appointment reminders

Your customers will always appreciate getting reminders that specific maintenance is due, as well as reminders that they have an appointment scheduled. If a customer needs to schedule or re-schedule, your AI assistant can handle those tasks as well.

Related: Service: It’s time to make status updates your friend, not your foe

Notify customers about factory recalls

Don’t rely on your manufacturer to get the word out. Your customers want to hear from your dealership on how you can help them solve their recall issue. An AI assistant can inform them about the recall and follow up several times via email or text to set up the appointment. If a customer has a question that AI can’t handle, AI will connect that customer with an available service writer or manager.

Gauge customer satisfaction after service visits

AI is ideal for conducting customer surveys. Emails go out automatically after each visit, along with several follow-up communications to customers who don’t respond.

Increase ROI of service marketing campaigns

When your service department sends out a marketing campaign with a special offer, a certain percentage of people open the email and/or click on something in the email. An AI assistant can identify who those people are and reach out to them to see if they want to take advantage of the offer, increasing campaign ROI. One of the best things about AI assistants is that they never send duplicate or generic emails. Every email is personalized.

In addition to these tasks, your AI assistant will encourage more customers to opt-in to text communications, which has a greater overall response rate than any other communications channel. AI also keeps contact information updated by asking customers for new phone numbers, emails, and/or addresses.

With fewer new vehicle customers being funneled into your service department, it’s time to focus on customer retention. Hiring an AI assistant will keep more customers engaged and is the fastest, easiest way to help your service staff provide a better customer experience.

Did you enjoy this article from Michael Biasco? Read other articles on CBT News here. Please share your thoughts, comments, or questions regarding this topic by submitting a letter to the editor here, or connect with us at

Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date or catch-up on all of our podcasts on demand.

While you’re here, don’t forget to subscribe to our email newsletter for all the latest auto industry news from CBT News.