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Guest blog: Capitalise on current trends in aftersales

Author: Andrew Howells (pictured), founder and chairman of CitNow.

"The aftersales market has encountered a major market shift in the last decade. Most dealers have seen a dramatic reduction of aftersales business due to the recession, more reliable vehicles and more independent shops popping up.

The latest data tells us that the market is continuing to develop. With all the change, there’s no saying what the future looks like.

Below, I've outlined three ways an aftersales department can understand and combat these recent changes through all parts of the buying cycle; from long before the service is performed through to what happens during after the service.

1. Understand how the new digital driver is looking for an aftersales service provider

Changes in buying behaviour happen rapidly. In the graph below, we've compared two popular aftersales search terms: "oil change service" and "oil change near me".

The data represents just two years of search history, showing how search behavior is changing. The term "oil change near me" has grown rapidly in popularity over the last two years showing two key points:

• Today's digital driver is using devices to pin-point their location and find service providers in their area.

• Today's digital driver is looking for speed and convenience. They want results quickly.

By understanding these facts, a dealership can capitalise on these trends to market and sell to these buyers by advertising their ability to meet consumers needs for a speed and convenience. What these numbers don't suggest is that speed and convenience are the only thing buyers are looking for in a service. They also want a quality service, and they're willing to pay for it.

Interest over time. Web search. Global. Jan 2012 - Jan 2014. Source: Google

2. Exceed the customers expectations in service delivery

According to a CEI Survey, 86% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience.  But only 1% of customers feel that vendors consistently meet their expectations.  Source: (Customer Experience: Is it the Chicken or the Egg, Forbes).

The answer here is to create an experience that stands out in the customer's mind. In fact, many customers have a hard time identifying the difference between aftersales service providers.

In order for an aftersales department to stand out from the intense competition, it needs to adopt new technologies and processes to bring the customer a memorable experience.

Several aftersales departments have done a great job at this by including full, complimentary meal services while the customer waits for their vehicle to finish.

Others send personalised videos of the vehicle right to the customer's inbox or smartphone so they can see the repair work needed with their own eyes.

The options here are endless, but exceeding the customer's expectations during the service delivery will ensure repeat business, larger purchases and increased customer satisfaction.

3. Ensure the customer has been taken care of long after the service

This sounds like good, old-fashioned customer service, but it's so much more than that. Ensuring that a service was completed satisfactory to the customer's needs is only part of the equation. What about check-ins and up-sells for additional service?

According to a Google study, only 2% of vehicle owners get a phone call or email reminder about a routine service. This number is surprisingly low, given that every vehicle on the road will eventually need new brakes, tyres or an oil change.

The study continues, 1 in 4 customers will post a review online when they find a service provider they like. Search engines love reviews because they come from every-day people and make it easy for others to trust a brand. Today's digital technology makes it very easy to be proactive with customers to ensure their vehicle is being properly maintained by a dealership and makes it easy to encourage positive word of mouth.

As with all market shifts, there is also opportunity. Each dealership should do what makes sense given their situation, but these three points will help any aftersales department make the most of the current trends. We'd like to know more about what your aftersales department is doing to combat these trends.

Please let me know in the comments below."

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  • Josh Pullan - 02/05/2014 11:42

    Interesting article, thanks. 2% is extremely low, and shows that Aftersales 'prospecting', going out to customers instead of waiting for them to come in, has a long way to go. In a sales environment, the equivalent percentage of customers contacted would surely be around near 100%! Good news is that this could be a very lucrative area for workshops to explore and push absorption rates back in the right direction. My question would be though: what mediums could be used for these routine check ups?