Published in Automotive

Digitizing the Dealer Service Center: Time for the Technician to Come out!

In many cases, the current customer journey delivered at dealer service centers is not ready for the prime time. The present model at many stores has been in place too long and that’s because it’s always the way we’ve done it! While boomers might have settled a long time ago for just good enough, the new generation of customers will demand a quicker, more efficient and more personal level of customer experience.

The Heart of the Service Experience: the Multi-Point Vehicle Inspection (MPVI)

MPVI

The multi-point inspection is the foundation for revenue at every aftermarket shop or dealer service center. While the number of inspection points might vary from center to center, the MPVI provides peace of mind as well as service department revenue for both the present and future. However,  because the inspection has always been paper based, the existing process involved has suffered from a lack of efficiency, consistency and even credibility, resulting in a longer and more fragmented customer experience. In other words, lost business! Unfortunately, many service centers are still stuck in paper. Adoption has been low mostly because it’s really hard to stop a running motor to install a much more efficient part. And many service managers are fearful that a major change will be rejected by, “The boys in the front and back”.

MPVI

But digitizing the MPVI will revolutionize the service experience for both the customer and the service center.

  1. Every stage of the MPVI will be available on the customer’s phone
  2. The time frame for the customer receiving the report will be drastically reduced
  3. Images/video of the customer’s actual vehicle will bring technician recommendations to life and make approvals easier and quicker
  4. More repair/maintenance recommendations from this technician inspector will be sold. Sixty-six percent of all technician recommendations are never requested to be done at time of the MPVI
  5. Management will be instantly informed who is and who isn’t performing the MPVI.
  6. Service centers will have a “digital” trail to address legal inquiries

The above benefits are obvious and have been affirmed by early adapters of digital MPVIs. But there’s also a dramatic positive cultural change here that is being discussed much less.

Getting the Technician to Come out “From the Back”

When you go to your doctor because something is wrong with you physically, you might very well be seen first by a representative of the doctor, the physician’s assistant, right? And that’s OK because they only document a very rough idea of why you are there. But you don’t depend on that assistant to diagnose, prognose and actually administer a solution, do you?

So why isn’t the service center “doctor”, the service technician, included in that critical communication scenario with the vehicle owner in order to add credibility and speed to the MPVI process? And why are there no photos or videos for the vehicle owner to see and have thoroughly explained to them early in the fragmented process of maintaining a vehicle?

Not to take anything away from the service advisor’s importance or credibility, they are the key point in stewarding the vehicle owner through the service process of maintaining a vehicle. But to leave the service center “doctor” completely out of the communication has been a major flaw in the process for decades.

Why is the “Doctor” Still Stuck in the Back of the Service Center?

Why have technicians been left out of the process? For the same reason why other antiquated processes still exist in retail auto sales and service, because “that’s the way they’ve always done it”! And the service center model is stuck where it is because it’s really hard to change something that is seemingly running well. And when your measurement of success is focused primarily on the number and amount of the transactions, the perception of success can be clouded.

Another reason the technician has been left out of the process is the perceived feeling that they don’t want to communicate with customers. But we’re not speaking here about techs replacing the advisor’s one on one relationship with the customer. We’re simply speaking of integrating an image/video diagnosis from the service “doctor” into the diagnosis process. And when you inform the technician that this will mean more business for them, the buy-in will be accelerated.

Building a Customer Care Team for the Future

The future of auto repair will need a team, and not just one individual taking care of an owner’s vehicle. Eventually, the service process will have to shift more and more from a transaction to a trusted advisor. Transactional mindsets lead to commodity sales. And commodity sales will mean a competitive environment solely based on price.

And, of course, every service process will get faster. The shift from paper to digital will allow the service technician to “come out of the back” to add another level of credibility to the service a vehicle. And the time to make that shift is now.