Service Centers and Your Customers: How to Build Loyalty

Aug 16, 2023

Building customer loyalty is critical to the success of your car dealership. Several factors contribute to customer satisfaction, and one of the most important is your service center. A well-run service center can ensure your customers’ vehicles are adequately maintained and repaired when necessary, which creates a positive experience and keeps customers coming to you for their vehicle needs.  

Here we explore strategies you can use to build customer loyalty through your service center, from providing top-notch customer service to boosting your inventory with tools like Kelley Blue Book® Instant Cash Offer Service Drive Acquisition, which helps dealerships turn service lanes into inventory opportunities.  

These strategies can strengthen your dealership’s reputation, increase customer retention rates, and, ultimately, grow your business. 

Prioritize Communication  

One of the best ways to build loyalty is through effective communication between your service center and your customers. Your service center staff should be trained to communicate clearly and professionally with customers throughout the service appointment, providing updates on repairs, estimated completion times, and service costs. Try these tactics to prioritize communication in your service department: 

  • Use customer relationship management (CRM) software. A CRM lets you keep track of customer conversations and interactions, ensuring improved communication. 
  • Leverage technology. Offer online scheduling and appointment confirmations via email or text message. Add a chatbot widget to your site to provide customers with fast answers to their questions without waiting for an email or phone call. 
  • Be transparent about costs. Customers appreciate transparency when it comes to prices. Provide detailed estimates that break down the cost of parts and labor and explain any additional fees or charges. If the actual price is significantly different from the estimate, communicate the new price (and the reason for it) to the customer immediately. Estimating above actual costs and then presenting a lower final bill lets your service department pleasantly surprise your customers. 
  • Encourage feedback. Ask customers to give feedback on their experiences with your dealership. Use customer surveys or forms to gather this information, and monitor your online reviews, too. Responding promptly and courteously to any concerns or complaints helps build rapport. 

Build Relationships with Customers 

Nurturing relationships with your customers is critical to building loyalty. Encourage your service center staff to take the time to get to know customers, ask about their needs and concerns, and follow up after repairs to ensure customer satisfaction. Consider these steps for building customer relationships: 

  • Personalize communication. Address customers by name and personalize all written contact with them. Send personalized emails or texts to offer their vehicles’ maintenance schedules or upcoming dealership promotions. 
  • Send birthday or holiday greetings. Send customers birthday or holiday cards to show them you care. This personal touch can go a long way in helping you build solid relationships between your service centers and your customers. 
  • Host special events. Invite customers to customer appreciation days and other events at your dealership, such as car showings or free oil change days, to show your appreciation of their business, further strengthening the relationship. 
  • Offer VIP perks. Offer loaner vehicles, a complimentary car wash, or shuttle service to show your customers you value their business. 

Offer Exclusive Discounts and Rewards 

Offering special perks to loyal customers shows appreciation and incentivizes future business. Try these approaches: 

  • Offer membership discounts. Give members-only discounts on parts and services. This can be done through your loyalty program or with special membership cards. Discounts for regular customers on future repairs or maintenance or loyalty rewards, such as free oil changes or tire rotations, make customers feel special while also offering a benefit they’ll actually use. Loyalty software can track customer visits and offer personalized discounts or promotions based on service history. 
  • Start a referral program. When customers refer friends and family to your dealership or service center, reward them with discounts or special offers. This encourages continued patronage from those customers and builds word-of-mouth referrals for your business. Tools like ReferralCandy can help you automate and manage referral programs. 
  • Use rewards points. Give customers points for each visit or purchase, which they can redeem for free services or discounts on future visits. You could also offer rewards such as gift cards or cashback bonuses for certain milestones. 

Embrace Technology 

Using technology to streamline service center operations can improve efficiency and create a better customer experience. Consider these tactics: 

  • Implement digital vehicle inspections. Allow customers to send photos and videos of their vehicle’s condition and receive recommended repairs. 
  • Enable online appointment scheduling. Offer customers the ability to schedule appointments online, streamlining the scheduling process, reducing wait times, and taking scheduling off your service staff’s list of duties. 
  • Offer other online tools. Online tools can give customers easy access to their service history, appointment scheduling, and estimated repair costs. 
  • Offer a service center app. Create a mobile app that allows customers to view their vehicle’s service history, check on the status of their repair, and receive push notifications about upcoming maintenance needs, vehicle recalls, and service center promotions. Mobile payment options make the payment process quick and convenient. 

Empower Service Center Staff 

Your service center staff is the face of your business. Their knowledge, skills, and attitude can make or break the customer experience. Empower your staff to make decisions and solve problems independently, providing a sense of ownership and responsibility that translates to better customer service. Here are some ways to empower your staff to boost customer loyalty: 

  • Provide ongoing customer service training. Your staff should be well-trained in customer service, automotive repair, and the use of technology. Provide ongoing training and development opportunities to keep staff knowledgeable of industry trends and best practices. In-house training programs are one of the fastest and most affordable options. Training videos and roleplay can be effective tools to simulate real-life customer service scenarios. 
  • Hold regular meetings. Meet weekly or monthly to discuss customer experiences, best practices, and areas needing improvement. 
  • Equip staff with the right tools. Providing staff with software and other tools that make their job easier helps boost morale and efficiency, which results in greater customer satisfaction. For example, lengthy processes like vehicle acquisition can be simplified with tools like Kelley Blue Book® Instant Cash Offer and its new enhancement, Service Drive Acquisition. Kelley Blue Book Instant Cash Offer tells customers how much they can get for their car before coming into the dealership, and Service Drive Acquisition makes it easy for dealers to source profitable vehicles in their market. 

How Kelley Blue Book Can Help 

Service centers aren’t often seen as a significant profit source. However, a well-run service center can provide a steady and profitable revenue stream for many dealerships — and Kelley Blue Book can help. 

Kelley Blue Book Instant Cash Offer Service Drive Acquisition puts your service lanes to work to enhance your sourcing strategy. Sourcing from your own service lanes is beneficial because you can: 

  • Acquire vehicles directly from consumers at a lower cost to market compared to traditional methods. 
  • Analyze service appointments to identify vehicles that will be profitable in your market.  
  • Increase opportunities to sell service customers a new vehicle, increasing loyalty and retention. 

How dealers build customer loyalty is a vital part of any automotive sales business, and it’s essential to invest in the right tools and resources to keep customers coming back. The relationship between your service centers and your customers has a direct impact on your dealership’s business. Provide convenient digital solutions, train and empower your staff, and leverage Kelley Blue Book Instant Cash Offer Service Drive Acquisition to build customer loyalty and strengthen your reputation as a trusted service provider. 

For more tips to get the most out of your service center, read our blog