An after-service delivery process (also known as an active delivery process) can help tie your customers to the service department if properly structured and consistently utilized. Similar to the sales to service handoff, this is something that should be documented, trained on, and followed 100% of the time. There are a number of best practices that should be considered but the most important thing to recognize is that no process is worth implementing if it is not going to be followed consistently. Customers will draw back if they are treated differently each time they visit the dealership or if others are not receiving the same treatment. So, don’t bother reading on if you can’t guarantee that everyone, from dealer to managers to advisors, is going to be on board.
To be clear, after-service delivery refers to the time that a customer receives their vehicle after the maintenance or repair work is done. If the customer comes after hours, this can be done over the phone the following day. A great way to start setting this up in your dealership is to ask all of your advisors (or whoever works with the customer before he or she leaves) what the process should be. Give them a blank page and ask them to map out, step-by-step, how they deliver to a customer. This has two benefits: First, you will see how differently everyone approaches this all-important customer experience; second, you might get some good ideas to include in your new process!
Below we have compiled a very basic list of possible steps to consider when building this ever-important procedure in your dealership. In order to build professionalism and consistency, you will need to make sure you have control over this process as well as the customer’s perception of it. There is nothing wrong with explaining what you’ll do and why; both the dealership representative and the customer should have a clear idea of the value added with this system. And remember, simply doing three or four of these steps consistently and professionally is going to add more depth to your customer experience than what is provided without a process. The most successful stores in our 20 Groups make sure their service advisors are properly trained on their process and then monitored for compliance.
- Review repair order and explain services.
- Review inspection sheet for additional recommendations.
- Review maintenance schedule for next maintenance interval.
- Explain customer satisfaction scores (if applicable).
- Set flexible appointment(s) according to recommendations and maintenance schedule.
- Tell customers if you topped off fluids, pumped up tires, vacuumed inside the vehicle, etc.
- Ask the customers if they have any further questions or concerns.
- Thank the customers for their business.
- Be accommodating when you deliver the vehicle.
Some of these may be no-brainers. Obviously, you need to review the repair order and explain services, but how formalized is your approach? Shouldn’t all advisors cover the repair order in the same general way to emphasize points important to the dealership? And what about thanking the customer? Do we really need to tell our advisors to do this? The short answer is yes. The long answer is that they should not only say thank you, but they should say it honestly and recognize that the customer has other options. When delivering the vehicle, you should be as accommodating as possible. If it is raining, go get their vehicle and drive it up to the door. If it is parked around the building, walk with the customer until they see it. In general, avoid pointing your thumb over your shoulder.
What about those appointments? Why is it so difficult to recognize the similarities between your dealership’s service department and a dentist? Cars have prescribed, regular maintenance intervals that, when followed appropriately, almost guarantee a more efficient and safer vehicle, not to mention a more valuable investment. It is up to you to educate the customer on these benefits, starting on the sales floor and every time they bring their vehicle in for service. Regardless of how successful you are at setting appointments, you will plant a seed in your customer’s head that they need to come back in the future and you will be following up to remind them when you get closer to that time. Do I need to mention that you should set a reminder to call them back at that time to legitimize your concern?