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Late adopters are embracing kiosks, are you prepared?

Article Highlights:

  • Typical service hours make it inconvenient to schedule service work.
  • Self-service tech can “open” your shop, while advisors build relationships.

I am a self-proclaimed late adopter.

I was late to the game on every “cool” cell phone back in the day – the razor, the sidekick, and eventually the iPhone. I purchased a Samsung smart watch and retuned it the same day – still using my five-year-old Fitbit. I used a grocery delivery service for the first time last month; and I’ve had a Door Dash gift card patiently waiting in my purse for four weeks because I’ve never used Door Dash (maybe it will make a good Christmas gift). I also recently recommended we purchase a Wii for our kids for Christmas… only to realize it was discontinued in 2017.

Needless to say I’m not a fan of new “things” until they’ve been tried and tested and recommended to me a million times by friends or family.

I have the same – or had the same – late-adopter mentality for kiosks too. I’m the person that stands at the empty counter for far too long, only to be told you have to use the kiosk – this is now standard practice in places like McDonald’s or Taco Bell, but I do it grudgingly.

Until recently.

I took a quick trip to our local sandwich shop on my lunch break, and needed to be in and out pretty quickly. As I was standing in a slow moving line, five-deep, I noticed an empty row of kiosks.

Eh, what the heck, let’s try it out.

It was quick and easy, and I ended up ordering more than just my normal soup and sandwich. Upon recommendation from the kiosk, I added a nice lemon loaf cake slice and a coffee, spending $8.32 more than what I would have at the counter.

I’ve been back three times since, and each time, I’ve skipped the line and navigated straight to the kiosk. I have finally adopted kiosk technology!

So what does any of this have to do with your dealership?

Well, the first thing is that consumer behavior has changed. Kiosk technology has been around for a while, starting in airports (when’s the last time you waited at the counter without checking bags?), moving to grocery stores, movie theaters, and now restaurants and more. People who had never used a kiosk or self-service technology before COVID were forced to get a taste, and many, like myself, have started to come around to the convenience.

This is true for your service customers too. The average dealership’s service hours are relatively the same as the average person’s working hours. Needless to say, it’s not very convenient for your customers to fit their vehicle in for service. But according to a study completed last year, your customers crave convenience in your service drive. 33 percent of customers prefer to check in using a kiosk, yet only six percent were actually able to do so at their last service visit. There is a huge gap between what customers want and what is being delivered.

Comparison between services delivered and consumer preference.

Okay, so that’s all about your customer, but what about your dealership?

The customer experience, while important, may not always be the most vital factor to consider. Let’s take a look at a few others.

If you’re able to “open” your service operations outside of normal hours, customers can drop off and pick up their vehicles at a more convenient time. This can boost CSI, leading to more OEM incentives for you. It might also lead to more customers choosing you over another dealership that doesn’t offer this, leading to more customers and more profit.

This also improves the efficiency and productivity of your dealership. If cars are ready and waiting with the RO already created when you and your techs arrive, you can get started immediately. No waiting around for the customer to show up (probably running late too). This means you’re able to get vehicles in and out faster, increasing your service capacity and profit.

Now think about the check-in and out process itself. What happens during this process: you take their name, check their contact information – email, phone, etc, verify their vehicle details, and discuss their needed service. Then they go and wait and you move onto the next task or person waiting in line. A lot of feedback I’ve heard from dealerships is that they don’t want to replace their people with a machine. They need people to build relationships.

I 100% agree with that. But the truth is, a kiosk doesn’t replace your people and it can’t be a substitute for relationship building. It’s best used on tasks that don’t fall into that category, which happen to be all the tasks previously mentioned. That frees up your well-paid employees free to do more impactful and productive work that builds those relationships and makes you more money.

One more thing, remember how I spent over eight dollars more at the kiosk than the counter? That’s because at the counter I feel like I’m being sold. But at the kiosk, I feel like I’m shopping. I get to see a picture of that melt-in-your-mouth lemon cake, and I can’t resist. The same can be true in your service drive (not the melt-in-your-mouth part of course). Use this opportunity to unobtrusively offer up mileage-based maintenance or previously declined work from a past visit. This makes the customer feel more in control of their experience, and ultimately leads them to add more service to their “cart”.

So, your consumers have changed. The late adopters to self-service technology have started to come around to the idea. Are you ready to capture this market and reap the rewards or risk losing them to your competitor down the street?

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Director, Brand Marketing, Reynolds and Reynolds

Ashley is Director of Marketing Communications for Reynolds and Reynolds. In her 10 years with Reynolds, she has managed the marketing strategy for several key Reynolds solutions and branding initiatives. Today, she leads the U.S. and Canadian marketing teams to drive brand awareness, product penetration, and content strategy for Reynolds and other key brands within the Reynolds Retail Management System.

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