Is Your Online Service Scheduling Application Chasing Your Customers Elsewhere?

Let me start this post by stating unequivocally that I am big fan of online service scheduling applications for car dealers. When set up correctly, these little tools can save you and your customers the headaches and hassles of numerous service phone calls.

When set up correctly.

Without getting into the weeds, suffice it to say that online service scheduling is a great way to balance the load and maximize the labor in your shop without having to employ a service receptionist or BDC. Additionally, these applications can make scheduling service for your customers easier than ordering a pizza or buying a plane ticket online. (Something today’s consumer demands.)

When set up correctly.

I’m writing this post on the Monday before Thanksgiving. I’m writing this post because I want to get the transmission fluid changed in a used F-150 I bought recently. I’m writing this post because I want to accomplish this task before Sunday when the F-150 will be traveling south with my oldest son back to Boise State.

I’m writing this post because I tried to use the online service scheduling application on my local Ford dealer’s website only to see that the next appointment opening (for anything, including an oil change) is next Monday.

Too late for my needs, so I’m taking it to an independent shop later this afternoon.

My local Ford dealer lost the chance for a $150 customer-pay service. My local Ford dealer lost the chance for a multi-point inspection (MPI) and the additional services that can be sold from this. My local Ford dealer lost the chance to meet me and impress me with his/her world-class service and great inventory. My local Ford dealer lost the chance to entice me into overspending for cool accessories for this truck just in time for Christmas.

My local Ford dealer lost me because their online service scheduling application is far too rigid.

What if - along with the calendar above - the scheduling application had a little call-out that delivered a message like this:

“Need service sooner? Call our service hotline now at 555-1212 to take advantage of unexpected service openings!”

Do you think if I called them they could squeeze me in for a quick transmission fluid change and MPI? I’ll bet they could. But I, like nearly every other potential new customer, didn’t call. I went somewhere else; because their online service scheduling application chased me away.

Is this happening with your online scheduling app?  

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Comment by DealerELITE on February 29, 2016 at 11:25am

Thank you for sharing Steve 

Comment by steven chessin on November 30, 2015 at 12:39pm
Comment by steven chessin on November 23, 2015 at 5:04pm


"For loss of a nail a kingdom was lost" ! 

Years ago, a week after an oil-change at the VW dealer the axle on my VW Golf broke when I made a U-turn just before getting onto a highway. My car was towed-in and I was told the repair would cost $ 900. As I waited for a rental the service manager came to me and said that the dealership was going to cover all expenses. I asked why ? He told me his techs had not performed the safety inspection properly last week --  6 months ago  - or a year ago --- and damage to the boot allowed the axle to go dry. He apologized for their carelessness and said, "Thank God it did not cause an accident".

I understand that every service department takes service seriously --- beyond the money and upsells lives depend upon it. Your trip was without incident so "no harm no foul" but missing even one safety inspection is a serious matter because the entire reason  people drive new cars and have dealer servicing them is at the core not performance - luxury - economy - status - or even savings    --- it is SAFETY and PEACE-OF-MIND. So missing an inspection point - or - the entire inspection because the appointment was never made - misses the very center-of-the-core of why people buy and service their cars there.

So .... is "idiot" too strong ? I don't know. But what matters is life. If I were an owner, GM, service manager, tech ... the philosophy must be ... "not on my watch" ... not that nail ... not that horse shoe  ...  not  that horse ... the king ... or  the kingdom ... will  be lost.   ---  And that is also why we are so deeply offended by manufacturer-level safety issues that were known and covered-up. "Who knew and when did they know it?"  

It is all part of the same thing -  trust. We need to trust the people that tell us our cars are safe. Nothing else really even matters.  If you lie about - or neglect a safety issue - and something bad happens - there will be hell to pay in every way.  And I KNOW dealers do take this too seriously to rely upon robot response without managerial supervision.       


Comment by Steve Stauning on November 23, 2015 at 3:16pm

Well Steve Chessin, I wouldn't go so far as to say anyone is an idiot here. This is just another example in long line of technology being purchased as a panacea. It's far too common - especially in automotive. 

Comment by steven chessin on November 23, 2015 at 2:58pm

Steve -

"WHEN SET-UP CORRECTLY"  also means when to know when to go old-school manual human expert.   

I also highly approve of ROBOTS .... default I.T. or out-sourced services that filter the easiest tasks unworthy of minimum wagers. They provide more time for actual people to do better work when needed. Similar in concept to automatic parking cars must be carefully monitored and corrected when necessary. Yes, the car can self-park but it doesn't know there is deep puddle your wife will step into - ruin her shoe -  twist her ankle - call you an idiot as you drive to the hospital - and an expensive shoe store - and then the navigation sends you through a bad neighborhood where bad goes to worse. "Don't be that guy !"

As an inventory marketing manager I often see incorrect / incomplete VIN decoding. A customer will send angry comments like "It says automatic transmission but the photo shows a stick - you guys are idiots".

That customer is right. Who failed to supervise the robot ? Maybe a manager made the (wrong) decision that overseeing wasn't needed because the robot adds stock photos and a field agent takes pictures, maybe video too. So why isn't that good, good enough ?   Well ... it is good enough. Until it isn't. Until a real inventory marketing manager checks the work and sees no views and no leads - or no appointment for service. Robots are great tech tools but not substitutes for people that know when to step-in.  So in your actual case study who is the idiot that did not step-in, or have someone delegated to that responsibility ?  The service appointment staff -- management -  or all the way up the ladder.When the ball gets dropped so does the manager.          

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