Best PracticesJul 5th, 2023

What’s the Status? How Dealerships Can Avoid Missed Opportunities With Existing Clients


“Hi, I’m calling about my vehicle. Do you know what the status of it is and when it will be ready?”

Dealerships across the country hear some version of this phone call many times a day. In a world where a customer’s time is just as important as the service provided, providing timely updates and effective communication to a customer while their vehicle is in service is a critical metric to track. 

It can make or break customer retention, customer satisfaction, and employee satisfaction if not managed properly.

What is a status update?

The simplest definition is communication via text, phone, or email that provides the customer will clear expectations on the completion status, diagnostic results, or additional recommended services while their vehicle is checked in with the service department. There are many layers as to how these calls can be managed effectively, but first, we need to break down some of the common places this part of the customer experience can go wrong.

Lack of Accountability

While metrics like effective labor rate, key product sales, and dollars per repair order are all important to understanding your advisor and service department’s overall performance, the number of times a customer inquires about the status of their vehicle is often overlooked. This metric is important as it directly correlates with customer retention and satisfaction.

"Not all status calls are created equal."

You need an additional layer of accountability to ensure your service advisors provide updates to your clients in a timely manner.

How do you minimize status update inquiries?

First, you need to triage. Is your customer calling because they’ve heard from no one at the dealership, or are they returning an advisor’s communication? These phone calls should be treated in two separate manners. If the customer is simply returning an outbound communication from the advisor, track the inquiry, but don’t attribute it further. If the customer has heard from no one, verify which service advisor the ticket has been written under and begin to tally how many instances customers receive no status update attempt from that advisor. You’ll begin to identify trends where certain service advisors are responsible for most status update-related inquiries. 

In some dealerships, we’ve seen a single service advisor have as high as 45% of the no contact status-related inquiries. It was not surprising to see a direct correlation between a service advisor’s status update inquiries and an increase in lower customer satisfaction scores and customer complaints. 

By tracking this information, you can hold individuals accountable to your communication processes, and the dealership’s customers will be more satisfied.

What happens if you don’t monitor status update trends?

Your service drive has a finite amount of time each day to perform work on a customer’s car. Bottlenecks in efficiently communicating additional recommended work, part status, or providing updates on completion create a cascading experience for your employees and customers. Technicians get frustrated that the recommended work is not communicated timely to the customer. Customers become worried about the duration it will take to complete the work on their vehicle. 

If all processes are working as intended, and customers are still feeling the constraints due to lack of timely updates, it may be time to add additional personnel to the process. Knowing the trend of your status update-related inquiries helps a service manager identify and quantify areas of opportunity.

How Communication Skills Training Can Help

"Did you know 37% of dealer personnel leave due to perceived growth and development issues?"

Quantum 5 ESiQ data insights show trends into why employees are leaving and how dealerships can better meet their employee and customer needs. This data directly correlates with employee training opportunities and perception of communication breakdown in service departments. 

When employees are given a voice and the skills to communicate, it can pay big dividends for employee and customer retention. Adding an accountability partner that can help teach effective communication strategies across phone, text, email, and chat enables your service advisor to have more dedicated time meeting their customers in the way that resonates most. 

Training can’t be a one-and-done approach. You must have mechanisms to constantly engage your employees, give additional support and guidance when performance is not meeting expectations, and create new strategies as customer and vehicle needs change.

What’s next?

Addressing areas of opportunity with status update communication skills is not a one size fits all approach. Many factors will impact communication strategies, including dealership brand, work mix, telephony setup, and shop capacity. Having a trusted partner that can help identify opportunities using a combination of data and people, allows the dealership to act on the most pressing areas of opportunities, and build a long-term strategy to fulfil the needs of their customers and employees.

Sarah specializes in dealer training solutions across BDC, Sales, Fixed Ops, and Leadership. Having spent over a decade in automotive retail, innovating new operations and capacities within the dealerships that she worked at, Sarah’s people-first approach, coupled with her industry knowledge, has allowed her to grow, impact and influence the automotive community.

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