F EAT URE

SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2017 || FIXED OPS MAGAZINE

IT’S ALL IN THE PHONE
J.D. POWER STUDY SHOWS:
SERVICE-SIDE TEXTING IMPROVES CSI SCORES

BY THOMAS JUNG

Buick (with a score of 874) and Lexus
(with a score of 860) dealerships are
leading the way when it comes to the
customer experience, according to J.D.
Power’s recent customer satisfaction
index (CSI) scores.

But importantly, the auto industry over-
all continues to show significant im-
provement, with higher levels of over-
all customer satisfaction in that same
study.

Despite the improvement, though,
dealerships can and must tackle some
issues to continue the upward trend in
customer satisfaction.

Power of Text Messaging

Service Departments must integrate
text messages into their traditional
communication channels to reach their
customers quickly and more effectively.
Both the J.D. Power Study and Om-
nichannel research point dealership
management in the same direction:
businesses must have a multichannel
communication strategy.

This cannot be overemphasized. Com-
panies with multichannel engagement
have 89 percent retention vs. 33 per-
cent for businesses without it.

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Our world is complex and dealerships
must use phones, email, chat and, most
importantly, texting to appease their
customers.

The J.D. Power study indicated that
Service quality scores account for the
greatest improvement in CSI. The other
measures — Service Advisor, Service
initiation, Service facility and vehicle
pick-up — all showed improvement
from 2015. The quality of the Service
Advisor showed the highest level of sat-
isfaction. Arming the Advisor with tex-
ting will drive scores even higher.

Improving CSI Scores and Sales

There’s no question that Service De-
partment components are the key to
improved CSI scores and sales.

Chris Sutton, Vice President of Auto-
motive Retail Practice with J.D. Power,
notes that the quality of Service work
tops the list of items that lead to im-
proved CSI scores.

I suggest creating six-sigma processes
or workflows that eliminate comebacks
and assure that Service work is done
correctly the first time. Then, make sure
to communicate with the client and let
the customer know they have options
on communication channels — text,
phone and email.

The J.D. Power study indicated that
among customers who are contacted
by phone, 55 percent say they “defi-
nitely will” return for paid Service work.
When receiving text message updates,
that loyalty factor jumped to 67 per-
cent.

“The quality of work — doing the job
right the first time — can noticeably af-
fect customer satisfaction and loyalty,
but it shouldn’t be viewed in a vacuum,”
Sutton says. “Proactive communication
with the customer, especially while the
car is being serviced, is one element
that has a direct influence on loyalty.”

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This increase in loyalty factor from sim- receive text message updates,” Sutton texting is a key component of improv-
ply providing integrated Service-side said. “Correcting that disconnect by ing communications, building trust, ac-
texting cannot be ignored. The ques- adding more text message capability celerating repair times and increasing
tion of whether a dealership should use should be a priority with a dealership additional Service work approvals.
Service-side texting is not IF it should Service operation.”
be done, but rather, how quickly can it Today’s customers are demanding and
be implemented. A rule of thumb from best-selling au- expecting texting as a Service commu-
thor Malcolm Gladwell is that it takes nication option.
Additionally, customers’ preference for eight years for a new technology to be-
communicating via text has increased come an accepted norm. So, if you’re a
across all generational categories since manager who believes that the phone OUR WORLD IS
2015. Today, 41 percent of Gen Y1 and is adequate for Service Drive commu-
Gen X customers cite texting as a pref- nications, then I’m relatively sure you’ll
COMPLEX AND
erence, as do 25 percent of Boomers reconsider your position on that topic
and 10 percent of pre-Boomers, accord- within the next five years.
ing to JD Power. DEALERSHIPS MUST
Current estimates indicate that about
There are countless surveys and stud- 2,000 dealers currently use a robust USE PHONES, EMAIL,
ies on the use of texting and its impact DMS integrated texting solution with
on customer service. At our company, automation for appointments, wel-
we’ve sent tens of millions of text mes- come, vehicle ready, thank you / follow-
CHAT AND, MOST
sages to dealer’s customers and less up / CSI and six-month-out Service re-
than one percent of a dealership’s Ser- minders. IMPORTANTLY, TEXTING
vice drive customers opt-out.
Clearly, there’s a long way to go; non-
TO APPEASE THEIR
“It’s not surprising to see the prefer- believers need to grasp the reality of
ence for receiving updates through text the numbers and give texting a try. Cus-
messages continue to rise, but only 3 tomer retention is essential to building CUSTOMERS.
percent of customers indicate that they a more profitable Service business and

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SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2017 || FIXED OPS MAGAZINE

Must-have Features of Texting

When you choose to have a robust tex-
ting system, there are some features
you must consider. These include:

• Attaining written authorization on
the repair order (RO) estimate that’s
fully compliant with FCC and Telephone
Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) rules.

• A welcoming text when an RO esti-
mate is opened. This is a game-changer.
This text greets the customer, brands
the dealership, displays work items,
opens the text communication channel
with the respective Service Advisor and
offers an opt-out option. The customers
keep this text and use it months after
Service work has been completed.

• Vehicle-ready notification and track- “IT’S NOT SURPRISING TO SEE THE PREFERENCE
ing feature.
FOR RECEIVING UPDATES THROUGH TEXT MESSAGES
• Mobile pay giving the customer the
CONTINUE TO RISE BUT ONLY 3 PERCENT
option to pay before arriving at the
dealership for vehicle pick-up, creating OF CUSTOMERS INDICATE THEY RECEIVE TEXT MESSAGE
a customer experience similar to retail-
ers Amazon or Zappos. UPDATES. CORRECTING THAT DISCONNECT BY ADDING

• Automated follow-up that allows the MORE TEXT MESSAGE CAPABILITY SHOULD BE
customer to comment on the Service
visit or initiate a new appointment, A PRIORITY WITH A SERVICE OPERATION.”
which also allows a dealership to inter-
cept poor reviews and OEM surveys.

• Automated reminders for future Ser-
CHRIS SUTTON / VICE PRESIDENT, AUTOMOTIVE RETAIL
vice to drive repeat business.
PRACTICE, J.D. POWER AND ASSOC.
• Dealer-branded customer micro web
pages showing the customer the DMS- In a worst-case scenario, you are out and open rates will continue to fall. Most
complaint fields, all the while making two or three months of vendor texting Fortune 1000 companies will have text-
customers aware of specials and keep- costs. But the upside is much greater. enabled customer service. And surely
ing dealer's brand in the forefront of the Remember the adage: “nothing ven- all progressive car dealers will be pro-
customer's mind. tured, nothing gained.” viding texting solutions to their Service
Advisors, Sales team, Parts Department
• Recording all ROs, texts and pictures I believe the time to adopt an integrat- and F&I Departments.
for future retrieval. ed texting platform is now. The industry
consensus is that texting among busi-
Thomas Jung is the CEO and Co-
• Comprehensive reporting capability ness people age 40 to 50 will double founder of San Rafael, CA-based
AdvantageTec, Inc. He has previously
to manage usage and response times. and that texting within a business will been Divisional President and Vice
continue its double-digit growth. President Dealer Products at Cars.
com, CMO at vAuto and a Co-founder
Conclusion: of Marketdrive Interactive, which was
purchased by Classified Ventures. He
Voicemail will fall by the wayside for started his career as an Automotive
There’s little risk in trialing a feature- customers who are more and more Technician at Dr. Ing. HcF Porsche AG
in Stuttgart, Germany.
rich DMS integrated texting solution. time-constrained. Email response times

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