Auto Dealer Service Departments Must Pivot To Respond To New Realities

Significant changes are occurring in the auto services industry as electric vehicles, new customer attitudes, and digital retail adoption evolve from the pandemic.

As a result, industry leaders are re-examining assumptions and questioning standard operating procedures to ensure they align with the rapidly changing needs of customers interested in new ownership and service experiences. .

The JD Power 2021 Aftermarket study and the Customer Service Index study reveal several important insights into how customers are redefining their needs in terms of:

  • Payments. There is now a bias for remote or online options.
  • Speed. Express service is increasingly the default expectation of customers.

While we are still in the very early stages of tracking the experience of electric vehicle owners with auto services, early results are not promising. Owners are generally less satisfied with general maintenance and service. It could be a harbinger.

The onset of COVID-19 has led to a significant increase in online auto shopping, breaking down the traditional in-person interactions that have driven business to auto service departments at dealerships. The implications could have serious consequences for service operations.

Even as a gradual return to normal begins to emerge, many customers seem likely to continue to support their new digital car buying habits. This is especially true for people looking to buy electric vehicles.

Going forward, service departments will need to start thinking strategically about turning digital engagement into new opportunities for building ongoing relationships with customers.

The real implications of these trends may be obscured by the severe imbalance that currently exists between supply and demand. Gross dealer profits have skyrocketed in recent months, offsetting sluggish growth in service and maintenance.

However, as the supply chain begins to balance – and inventory balances to match supply with demand – service departments will have to push again. This is why JD Power expects to see more activity around improving customer satisfaction around maintenance and repair operations.

About Alexander Estrada

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