How to Communicate to Service Customers During the COVID-19 Crisis

In my last blog, I shared some tips about how dealerships can help protect customers and staff in their service departments during this challenging time. In addition to having the precautions in place, it is important to know how to correctly communicate to your customers (or prospective customers with safety recalls) about these safety measures and the importance of completing any needed recall work.

 

Consumers are venturing outside for some essential tasks such as trips to the grocery store, traveling to assist a family member, or to their place of work as an essential worker. They still need the use of their vehicle and, if it has an outstanding safety recall, it could inhibit them from doing these essential tasks or place them in danger.

 

Here are some tips we have found to be successful for service departments at this time.

 

This data needs to be communicated to your customers correctly. Display this data prominently on the service section of your website and in your service advertising. Also, use it in your emails, texts, and phone calls.

 

1. Communicate that your service department is legally open and ready to service them

 

First, let your customers know that your service department is considered an essential business and you are open and ready to service them. They may not even know this.

 

2. State the safety measures you are taking in all your communications

 

Tell your customers that their well-being and safety are your top priority, especially during this challenging time. That you understand their vehicle is a vital link to critical health services, medication, and groceries. As such, you are committed to remaining open to offer expedient and safe vehicle servicing and maintenance.

 

Reassure your customers that to protect them you are adhering to all CDC guidelines and offering additional vehicle disinfection at vehicle drop-off and return. These added measures, which will come at NO COST, are in place during the COVID-19 outbreak to ensure their health and peace of mind.

 

3. Develop a COVID Action Plan offered free to customers to make them feel safe

 

I also recommend that you offer something along the lines of a “COVID-19 Action Plan: FREE to all Service Customers.” Several service departments are using this to great success.

They generally include such things as:

  • Your vehicle safely returned to you, disinfected before and after service
  • Pickup and delivery to your home and office is available within a 15-mile radius. Services available during operating hours.
  • For consumers who prefer to drop off/pick up at the dealership, strict social distancing observed in our service drive
  • For extended repairs, a disinfected loaner car will be made available

4. Correctly communicate the additional threat of unrepaired recalls

Let your customers know that unfortunately, the coronavirus is not the only threat in the world. More than 1 in 4 vehicles on the road today have an unrepaired safety recall, a government-mandated warning intended to safeguard consumers. If you have a recall check tool on your site, be sure to include a link to it in your texts and emails and make sure it is easy to find on your site. Urge your customers to attend to the recall as soon as possible.

 

5. Inform your customers of the future increase in parts shortage

 

Communicate to your customers that you expect a disruption in the global supply chain to cause a parts shortage. It is a real possibility that in 3 months replacement parts will not be available. Advise them to please take immediate action. Again, state that all recall repairs and disinfection come at NO COST. This isn't a marketing ploy – it's a very real scenario that will likely play out, especially with imported parts.

6. Offer a discount to help with expenses

 

Finances can be tough right now, so to assist with expenses, consider offering a discount such as a $50 dealer services gift card. The gift card can be applied to any additional services or parts.

 

7. Contact information and hours are important

 

Include all methods of contact for your service department and your hours. You would be wise to add online scheduling, if you do not already have it, and include a link for ease of scheduling.

 

8. Charities need help now more than ever and charitable messages can help too

If you are doing anything right now to support your local community include that and encourage your customers to help with a message such as, “It is times like this that bring the best out in all of us. ABC Dealer is a proud sponsor of the Give Back to ABC Community Outreach program, which provides meals and services to seniors in our community. If you would like to help or contribute, please visit www.SomeTownshipHelp.com/coronavirus.”

 

With 33 states prohibiting the sales of vehicles in some form, now is the time to reach out to consumers for service work. Many dealerships have traditionally under-marketed their service departments, even though they account for the majority of income.

 

Safety is on every consumer’s mind right now. Communicating the message of safety for both their vehicle and general health and well-being can help your dealership gain much-needed service revenue. It can also encourage new service customers that will continue to return once this immediate crisis is over. And it is important right now to also plan for the future.

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