According to a recent article in Automotive News, consumers LOVE the idea of all of this new in-vehicle technology. The problem is that many of them don’t truly understand the intricate features and benefits. There is no way a salesperson can explain each and every technological feature on many of today’s cars succinctly, as is the case with any technology. For example, if you have ever had a problem connecting your phone to a Bluetooth speaker, well, then you have some idea as to the challenges the average consumer has when they get that new vehicle home. With all the electronic bells and whistles installed on today’s latest models, it's easy to see how owners can struggle with their operation.
So, who does the customer turn to for a quick refresher course when they opt out of that massive owner's manual? Chances are, consumers are looking to the friendly service advisor to guide them through the maze of new in-vehicle technology patiently. Only in instances of pure desperation do consumers turn to the owner's manual. If my parents struggled with the VCR, then they're for sure going to be at the advisor’s desk seeking assistance the day after the vehicle purchase…….
Some of the questions actually have nothing whatsoever to do with any maintenance or repair issues, but rather about how to work certain vehicle features such as Bluetooth connectivity, or any number of technology features that are now standard in new cars. As savvy as we've all become with technology, our nation's population is getting older, and they're going to need some help.
For the first few days or a week after purchase, the customer may call their salesperson. But, ultimately, they will rely on their service advisor to assist them when they come in for service.
With all this new technology, there is a lot of talk about the need for technicians and, more specifically, those that are trained in this new technology. But we don’t hear too much about the need for service advisors to be trained in these features.
If a service advisor isn’t knowledgeable about the vehicle itself, it may take valuable time for a dealership technician to teach the customer. If the service advisor were knowledgeable about the most common new features and technologies, the issue could be handled in the service drive, preserving valuable technician time for the dealership. While technicians are in short supply, every minute spent away from the service bay costs the dealership.
I realize this may be a bit of a balancing act as the service advisors are very busy. I have heard of some dealers that have a team of younger tech-savvy employees who are not a huge expense, know the tech inside out and can quickly educate vehicle owners. It is excellent for CSI and customer retention. And, on the luxury side, I see more and more tech support/sales people such as BMW Genius Everywhere reps, a great program that even has an app.
If you do not have an in-dealership or OEM program like this in place, training your service advisors on the new technology features or employing a couple of inexpensive tech-savvy kids who can educate your customers, may be a great idea to streamline owner education, keep customers happy, improve CSI and customer retention. Who knows? It could even help with upsells. If you handle the customer's Bluetooth-synching issue, they may be more amenable to those recommended repairs that need to be done!