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New TEXT2DRIVE Study Reveals the Technology Consumers Want in Dealership Service Lane

Dealerships offering digital multipoint inspections, text communications create greater customer loyalty

TEXT2DRIVE, a fixed-ops customer experience suite designed to help automotive dealers improve the customer experience, increase profitability, and raise CSI scores, today released findings of its proprietary consumer research focused on dealer service satisfaction and retention.

Research firm J.D. Power learned that dealers capture 88 percent of customers’ annual service visits in the first three years of ownership – but what keeps them returning after that? According to a recent TEXT2DRIVE survey* of 1,000 U.S. drivers, 54 percent want a digital vehicle inspection (DVI) tool they can view on a mobile device to authorize recommended repairs. A close 53 percent want text communications and notifications, followed by pre-scheduled vehicle pick-up at 48 percent and online payment and checkout at 45 percent.

Why DVI?: When asked to identify the benefits of a digital experience that included a mobile-accessible inspection report with photos, videos, and pricing, 53 percent of respondents said “better understanding of recommended repairs,” followed by “clear pricing quotes and estimates” at 50 percent, and “approve and decline repairs remotely” at 47 percent.

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Texting for the Win: The survey revealed that only one in three respondents are very familiar with their vehicle’s factory-recommended maintenance schedule. It also revealed that text is the preferred communications channel for dealerships to keep owners on track with maintenance milestones. Nearly half of respondents said they’d prefer receiving text communications for recommended maintenance reminders, just below appointment reminders at 57 percent and appointment scheduling reminders at 54 percent. In fact, texting was preferred overall by 42 percent of respondents, followed by email at 29 percent and phone communications at just 18 percent.

Vehicle Knowledge, Trust Steer Owners to Service Lane: As for why respondents choose to service their vehicle at the dealership, the majority (59 percent) believe the dealership is more knowledgeable about their vehicle, while 41 percent think dealers are more trustworthy, and about a third choose dealer service for convenience.

1 in 4 Say Service Experience Exceeded Expectations: Of respondents who had recently visited a dealership service lane, only one in four said their past experiences exceeded their expectations, while 57 percent of respondents said their servicing dealership met their expectations. Overall, only 17 percent of respondents said their service experience did not meet their expectations.

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“Like the emergence of digital retail tools in front-end departments, COVID-19 helped tow service departments into the digital age, and as we can see from our survey, there’s no looking back,” said Gregg C. Owen, CEO of TEXT2DRIVE. “We know that technology such as digital inspection, texting, and online payments not only elevates customer satisfaction, it also increases the close rate on recommended service and the dollars earned per repair order. This study confirms that these tech tools are key to retention and profitability.”

Conclusion: Vehicle knowledge, trust, and convenience are why vehicle owners choose dealerships over aftermarket repair shops. Drivers want digital multipoint inspection tools that allow them to review and authorize service recommendations. These findings align with J.D. Power’s 2022 Customer Service Satisfaction Index Study, which noted that customers are three times more likely to approve repair recommendations when photos or a video are included in the communication. Additionally, the results showed that text messages sent by service departments that provide reminders of upcoming appointments or status updates for in-process work are preferred by 42 percent of customers. TEXT2DRIVE’s poll results also show texting’s promise beyond simple reminders and in-service updates. The channel topped even email for communications related to lease expiration and safety recalls. Texting was also the No. 2 offering survey respondents said would most likely allow their servicing dealership to retain their business. In fact, texting is preferred 3.75 times more than phone calls.

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