The service drive is a place at dealerships where direct-to-consumer transparency and technological advances can be overlooked–it is important not to make this mistake. After all, the service drive is an excellent opportunity for customer retention, and if customers consistently have favorable experiences this can lead to more new vehicle sales.

There are many new ways to mesh transparency and technology at dealerships.

One example at Toyota is the third-generation multi-media system known as Entune 3.0. It was first introduced in the All-New 2018 Camry.

This multi-media system is enhanced by offering several connected services including Service Connect. This tool provides current vehicle information along with service transparency through vehicle health reports and vehicle maintenance alerts.

It is designed to strengthen the bond between customers, dealers, and the brand.

This allows Toyota dealerships to directly communicate with their customers and their vehicles specifically through Service Lane Portal. Once the customer commits to a new Toyota vehicle with these features, they will download the appropriate apps, register through our website, opt-in for Service Connect, and input the preferred dealership’s phone number in their vehicle’s audio system head unit.

The service feature provides a tremendous amount of value for the customers, dealers and the brand. For example, “Mr. and Mrs. Jones this is ‘Dave’ from ‘ABC Toyota,’ I’m in the Service Department or Business Development Center (BDC) and we can see your vehicle is approaching your 10,000-mile service, for your convenience can we schedule you a service appointment?”

This mixture of transparency and technology will help keep your customers coming back to your service drive and build trust, so when it’s time to buy a new vehicle, your dealership is the recommended choice.

Another impressive feature of the platform is while driving, the Maintenance Indicator Light (MIL) alerts the driver and a message appears on the vehicle’s audio system head unit. The driver can do one of three things; A) They can play the message in the vehicle. B) Call their preferred dealer. or C) Dismiss the message and revisit later.

The dealership is also notified through “alerts,” and can contact their customers directly. Innovations such as Service Connect, and similar features likely offered by other OEMs, CRMs and vendors, are an effective way to get your customers back in your service drive as opposed to aftermarket competitors.

In sales, transparency is evident with the internet and technology in today’s environment. Consumers are so much more informed than they once were and often know exactly what they want and don’t want due to their own research prior to dealership arrival.

Just as there can be mistrust with a dealership’s sales department, the same can be true with a dealership’s service department. The perception the service department at an OEM-certified dealership is overpriced to the consumer still exists, and dealerships continuously strive to change this perception through effective customer communication.

Toyota enrolls their Master and Certified Technicians through stringent on-going technical training to make sure they are well versed in the vehicles they are working on. The factory trained technicians are experts that specifically work on these vehicles day in and day out to ensure their customer’s vehicles are repaired correctly and efficiently the first time. It is critical this expertise and specialization is communicated to all customers to build value regarding the health of their vehicle.

In the aftermarket landscape, you may not have the consistency or frequency of each make and model. Therefore, having factory trained technicians working on vehicles makes great sense while reducing the time it takes to get vehicles in and out of the shop, whether this requires general maintenance or heavy repair.

Today, the vehicle technology is so advanced and evolved that it is highly encouraged for each dealership to enroll their service and parts personnel in the factory recommended training throughout the year to increase customer satisfaction as well as improve customer retention.

When you have a solid tool like Toyota’s Service Connect, or a similar product from another OEM or vendors, it simply provides customers with a “peace of mind” and this is extremely important in today’s environment.

Ryan Schwank

Ryan Schwank

Product Training Specialist at Toyota Motor North America
Ryan Schwank

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