Putting some fun into the service customer experience

By: Tim Clay

Sitting in the service department waiting room staring at the clock waiting for your vehicle to be repaired isn’t the most fun thing in the universe. It’s not quite like going to the dentist, but for some people it is a close second. Perhaps that’s the allure of the Jiffy Lubes of the world – the promise of the 30-minute oil change.

What is a dealer supposed to do to make a customer’s wait a little better? Dealers have tried many things, from installing cafes, televisions and, in some cases, movie theaters. These can be expensive investments and – unless someone is waiting a long time for service – they may not be interested, or have enough time to watch a whole movie.

I came across an interesting article on this topic that was recently carried by Automotive News. According to the article, one dealer may have found a novel answer – pool tables, pinball machines and classic arcade games.

A New England dealer was moving house and had no place for his pool table and video arcade machines. So, he decided to put them in his dealerships. To his surprise, he found customers loved them, the wait for their vehicles seemed to pass faster, and it was a more pleasant experience.

When customers enjoy their experience in your service department, they’re more likely to tell their networks and recommend your dealership, which is important in this age of infinite customer choice for their service needs. A great customer experience can even overcome a slightly higher RO – if value and trust has been built by that experience.

Maybe Pac-Man is all it takes to entertain a customer? Well, it’s perhaps not such a bad idea. According to the article, Dave & Buster’s is popular because the games entertain adults. The video game industry runs in the billions and the average age of a video gamer is 31.

This dealer stumbled upon an excellent way to engage customers. Whether you think this is a good idea or not, consider that the underlying problem this solved is one that’s similar at every dealership – boredom.

Simply having a television and free coffee is no longer enough to entertain today’s customers. Think outside-the-box and be a little creative – like this dealer did. Consider finding some fun and engaging activities for your waiting service customers. It could be just the thing your dealership service department needs to liven up the guests and transform their experience. And it does not have to cost a lot. In fact, it cost the New England dealer nothing at all.

It is at the very least something worth thinking about as it could result in additional profit and revenue through more service business and – potentially – due to happy customers – some brand advocates.

Bio: Tim Clay has more than twenty years experience in the automotive retail space and is a graduate of NADA Dealer Candidate Academy. Previously, he was COO and Co-Founder of ClickMotive, an automotive technology company. He has instrumented one successful automotive startup exit and one successful medical company exit.

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