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Online service booking to snowball

Manufacturers who don't have an online servicing/maintenance booking system could be missing out on a growing market.

Ford has just announced massive growth in traffic on its pioneering fordserviceonline website - launched in October 2001.

Ford Customer Services Division marketing manager Philip Parke says the service has recorded a “dramatic” increase in online bookings.

“In September there were more than 2,100 bookings made online. This is a tenfold increase on the figure for January and is more than double the traffic in June.”

After accessing the site, customers simply type in either the vehicle registration number or vehicle identification number to access all relevant information, including repair and pricing details specific to the vehicle.

The customer can not only obtain a price quotation, and book an appointment but also get an indication of when the vehicle will be ready for collection.

The system is also interactive, giving the customer the facility to communicate directly with service managers or technicians to highlight any concerns they have with the vehicle.

Other volume manufacturers are watching the Ford online development with interest..

A Vauxhall spokesman says: “We don't have a site and it is certainly an area we are currently looking at.”

Peugeot is also watching the Ford venture with interest - but a spokeswoman says its own research has shown that customers preferred a face-to-face meeting with their dealer - especially if they had any problems with the vehicle.

But Ford is committed to the new route to the aftersales market.“We expect that the numbers will continue to snowball as more and more customers realise the benefits of booking online,” says Parke.

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