The 2018 Service Industry Study from Cox Automotive showed that consumers are willing to pay more and travel further for enhanced service experiences for their vehicles. Dealerships that are able to provide them stand to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty.

2018 Service Industry Study Insights

Dealership Service Department Best Practices to Improve Customer SatisfactionCox Automotive's 2018 Service Industry Study looked at consumer perceptions and patterns around automotive service experiences. The company surveyed approximately 3,550 customers that visited any service center in the past 12 months and 404 franchise dealership employees involved in service operations. The insights gained can help dealers find ways to increase service department profits and customer satisfaction and loyalty.

The good news is that dealership service departments are leading the way in service visits. The bad news is that 70 percent of consumers who bought or leased from a dealer never returned for service in the past year. Based on Cox's study and NADA data, they estimate this equates to 15.9 million in annual lost revenue per franchise dealership.

In order to capture some of that lost revenue, dealers have to strive to increase customer satisfaction, which will improve retention and loyalty in turn. In order to make this happen, dealerships need to look at the experience they provide customers in the service bay.

According to the study, 60 percent of respondents said they'd be willing to travel farther and 54 percent said they'd pay more for an enhanced service experience (cost and a convenient location are the top two barriers to dealership service retention). But what does an enhanced experience entail?

The Cox study shows that service customers are motivated by convenient and stress-free experiences. Enhancements dealership service departments can provide include: online bill pay, in-lane bill pay via mobile device, minimal-click scheduling via mobile device, video/pictures of recommended service, request service visit add-ons online, review/approve estimates electronically, guaranteed loaner vehicles, and providing ride-sharing services.

Clearly, dealers that want to up their fixed operations game need to adopt new technologies and offerings to adapt to changing customer expectations.

Dealership Service Department Best Practices to Enhance Experiences

Using data from the 2018 Service Industry Study points us to solutions dealership service departments can use to deliver better experiences and improve customer satisfaction:

  • The Data: The share of dealership service visits among buyers who bought from a dealership is 62 percent for those with vehicles that are less than two years old, 56 percent for consumers with cars that are two to five years old, and 29 percent for those with vehicles that are greater than five years old.
  • The Solution: You have to work to earn people's business early on. The key to retaining these customers for years to come is to roll out the red carpet for them soon after they purchase, and make sure to deliver a satisfying experience to keep them coming back. A popular idea is to offer free oil changes early on in the ownership period, so your store can leverage those visits into other services.
  • The Data: 70 percent of respondents want price ranges for services available on dealership websites, while 55 percent would choose one dealer over another if it provided online estimates.
  • The Solution: You can gain an advantage over your competition by providing price transparency online. In fact, respondents ranked value as the most important factor when considering service providers over quality, convenience, and trust.
  • The Data: 56 percent of those surveyed said they'd choose one dealership over another if they could schedule service appointments online, while respondents stated their desire to use the dealer website as a primary maintenance touch point in many different ways – 67 percent want the ability to track service history, 62 percent want recall updates and service reminders in conjunction with the ability to schedule online, and 62 want to view manufacturer-recommended maintenance schedules all on the dealership website.
  • The Solution: Provide as many service functions as you can on your store's website, especially when it comes to online scheduling. Consumers, especially younger ones, feel more comfortable online and think these types of functions provide flexibility and allow them to save time and effort.

The Bottom Line

The 2018 Service Industry Study from Cox Automotive shows that 71 percent of dealers believe their service experience has improved, citing factors such as a better staff, better employee training, and/or improved customer service. But there's always room for improvement, and the insights from the study and the solutions they point to can help your store deliver enhanced experiences, improve customer satisfaction, and increase loyalty and profits.

Speaking of improvement, Auto Credit Express wants to help your store reach new heights. Our car sales leads and dealer products and services can help you get serious buyers sent to your store and boost your bottom line. Learn more by calling us at 888-535-2277 or by filling out our contact form online.