How can Self-Service Technology improve Aftersales in your Dealership in 2023?

How can Self-Service Technology improve Aftersales in your Dealership in 2023?

Written by Simon Verona

Can you reduce staff levels in the dealership by investing in Self-Service Tools  ?

Will this improve Customer Service ?

Can we continue to meet customer expectations?

DMS Navigator is an creator of Dealer Management Systems for Car and Van dealerships across the franchised and independent sectors.    As such, we develop, integrate and deliver such tools to dealerships.  This gives us an insight on how these tools can be used to benefit the customer and the dealership

What do we mean by Self-Service ?

Self-Service refers to a suite of services/tools which are supplied to help the customer to carry out a process or parts of a process without human interaction.

We are used to this in many areas of life, such as checking in online for flights, or even booking holidays online rather than visiting or talking to a Travel Agency.

How can these tools be successfully used in a car dealership ?

First of all, let's deal with the elephant in the room.  

If investing in Self-Service is simply a way of removing staff from the dealership then ultimately the implementation of these will fail!  

Simple, I've said it!

Self-Service tools are there to enhance the customer experience.  The key though is that when reviewing such tools, it's important to recognise that differing customers have differing requirements through a process.

There is no such thing as a Self-Service Only Customer

It's important to recognise that there is no such thing as a "Digital" or "Self-Service Only" customer.  

Customers will  want to flip between Digital and Physical all the time. 

They may be happy, for example to book a service for their vehicle online, but want to pick and pay at the Service Reception.

What's the benefit ?

So, what's the benefit in supplying Self-Service in the process if it doesn't save costs elsewhere immediately?  Where is the ROI?

The key is twofold :-

  1. Enhanced Customer Service
  2. Enhanced Customer Service

I've mentioned this twice, because it critical.  

Happy customers return to the business, will spend more and will recommend your business to their friends. 

Self-Service can improve Customer Satisfaction by simply giving the customer the option on how to interact with you.

However, the Self-Service tools need to provide an equal or better experience than dealing with a human at the dealership.


So, when a customer reads an email at 10pm saying his car is due an MOT, the Call to Action button should give the customer the option to book in online.   

From a dealership perspective, we want to make this as simple and as personal as possible.  So, when booking in, the customer shouldn't be asked who he is or what vehicle he is booking in - you already know that !   The process should be simple.   

It also needs to be efficient.  So, the Online Service booking should actually create an appointment in your Dealer Management System - not require an advisor to rekey it in.  This costs you more in advisor time, and risks delays and errors.

However, the email to the customer needs to also give other ways to book in - eg a Phone No - so those that aren't comfortable with technology or who want to discuss their booking with an advisor can do so.

Similarly with items such as Kiosk Check in - this is where a customer can walk up to a screen in the dealership and check their car in there, dropping their keys into a drop box and leaving.    For customers who simply want to "drop and run" this is a very neat solution.  Others will still want to hand their keys over to a physical advisor. Both options need to exist.

This runs through the whole Aftersales process.  Some customers are happy to "talk" to an advisor and get updates via text or email, others desire a phone call from a human.  It's important to understand which customers prefer which options and server appropriately. 

The same goes for invoice, payment and pickup.   Many customers will be more than happy to receive their invoice by email, pay online before picking their keys up at the Self-Service Check out desk. Others might want the invoice by email, but pay and collect in person. 

Again, we need to be able to cater for all.

The benefits look like they are for the customer - and indeed this is the way this technology should be viewed.  It gives the customer options.

Ok, those are the customer benefits, what about the dealer ?

There are potentially massive benefits of the dealer.

Lack of Customer Dis-satisfaction with Manual Processes

Many customers will complain that they can't get through on the phone to book their car in at 8.30 am - this is the busiest time for Service Advisors dealing with physical customers.  It's easy to see that this can be improved massively if some of those customers simply book online , whilst the load on Service Reception is also reduced .

More Time for your Team when it matters

If the Self-Service tools are good and effective enough, then over time, more and more customers will become comfortable with using them.  This reduces the time your Customer Service Team need to spend with these customers doing routine tasks.  

It leaves them with more time to handle the more complex interactions, improving customer satisfaction and upselling better. 

Yes, it will reduce costs

As time goes by, the reduced costs of serving customers through self-service will translate into a reduction of costs of processing transaction.

Does that mean a reduction in headcount though?

Not necessarily.  If you only have one customer facing Service Receptionist you can't lose that person.  Ever!

But, what happens is-

More time to earn money

Your Customer Service Team will have more time available to earn more revenue for the dealership.

So, they can - for example - contact lapsed customers and encourage them to book in for service work.

Spend more time with customer upsell, translating more Red and Amber work identified in the workshop into upsell.

Conclusion and Next Steps

Investing in Self-Service tools - both online and physical ones, is something that all dealerships should be considering implementing.

Focus in the customer experience - ensure that the customer experience is maintained no matter what channel they choose to work with the dealership.

Also make sure that there is a benefit in these tools to your team - they need to be integrated with your main inhouse Dealer Management Systems to be effective.

Work on the long term.    Offer as an option to customers - ensure that your team aren't scared of these solutions (ie that they will lose their jobs!!) and offer them to customers as appropriate.

Look for the Return on Investment over the long term - it's not instantaneous but certainly should be measurable in the first 12 months!

Can Self-Service Technology improve Aftersales in your Dealership?

Can you reduce staff levels in the dealership by investing in Self-Service Tools  ?

Will this improve Customer Service ?

Can we continue to meet customer expectations?

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Would not hesitate to recommend Navigator DMS.

John Macleod
Lawrence of Kemnay
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