Ever wonder why some customers don’t return to your service department?

Prices too high? Too competitive of a market?

According to a 2018 survey, people aren’t leaving businesses because of product or pricing. 67% leave because of poor customer service.

While many dealerships believe they offer good service to their customers, there’s often more you can do to move from good to great.

In an age ruled by customer experience and above-average service, it’s not enough to offer a smile, positive attitude, and small discounts. It’s time to go beyond the basics and build a deep culture of customer care that focuses on creating an experience like none other.

A good experience starts with truly caring

Building an outstanding customer experience will only happen if there is a deep sense of customer care at your dealership. People can quickly sniff out phonies—businesses that only view customer service as a means to an end, not an end in itself.

A culture of customer care isn’t about the flashy discounts, services, or free coffee—it’s about the feeling people get, how they’re treated, and whether or not they feel valued.

The business implications of this genuine care are great, especially looking to the future. According to the annual Global Automotive Consumer Study, Gen Y consumers (born between 1977 and 1994) value the customer experience three times as much as vehicle design as an influence on their final purchase decisions. The level of customer care begins in your service department and extends to the rest of the dealership.

Consumers spend about 15 hours buying a new car but as much as 50 hours having it serviced during the time of ownership.

This provides a great opportunity to create loyal customers through amazing experiences in your service department.

Practical tip: A deep care for customers starts at the top. And studies show that customers feel how your employees feel—so invest in making your employees feel valued!

The easiest resource to improve your customer service

As you look to create a culture of customer care, don’t overlook the valuable resource at your fingertips: your existing customers. If you aren’t regularly communicating with them and asking intentional questions about the service you’re proving, you’re missing a wealth of knowledge that can help you in the future.

Take customer feedback seriously and continue to ask for it!

Practical tip: Survey your customers after each appointment. This gives them a chance to share their thoughts and allows you to address that feedback before they receive surveys from the manufacturer.

Invest in training your team

Reinforce the importance of customer care with your team frequently. This can be accomplished through regular trainings or team goals. Share specific data to show the value of these interactions and great experiences at the dealership—that it pays to care for your customers.

Practical tip: Meet with your team on a semi-regular basis to talk about customer feedback, issues, or breaks in the internal processes that cause poor customer experiences. This opens up the floor to feedback from your team and keeps customers top-of-mind. Don’t forget to share positive customer stories and team successes, too!

Build a personalized experience with customer data.

Show customers you care about them as individuals by creating a personalized experience. Take advantage of customer relationship features in your DMS or CRM to track communication, interactions, and important details about potential and current customers. The whole purpose of these tools is to improve customer relationships and experiences. With creativity, you can track specific customer information to help you create a personalized experience and show that the dealership cares.

According to DigitalDealer, 86% of consumers say that personalization plays a role in their purchasing decisions.

For example, if a customer asked questions about a new car on the lot during their last maintenance visit, why not let them drive that car during their next service? It not only makes the customer feel valued that you remembered, but it also might inspire them to purchase the car in the future!

Practical tip: Track customer interactions and send a personalized email or handwritten reminder when it comes time for a customer to return for service.

Find innovative ideas from other industries.

Look beyond the dealership world or even the automotive industry for new ways you can surprise and “wow” your customers.

“Companies should look beyond their own borders for ideas, inspiration and a greater understanding of the world in which their customer[s] live. Brands should be prepared to drive to any length in order to ensure that their customer remains at the core of their operations.” – Mike Small, Sitel Group US Chief Client Officer

We are all the customers of multiple brands every day. Think about the experiences that impacted you as a consumer, asking yourself questions like:

  • When did a company make my life easier?
  • What are the best customer experiences I’ve had personally?
  • What did a company do that surprised me?

This can be a great opportunity to offer a different twist of service to your customers.

One dealership was inspired by Domino’s Pizza Tracker and decided to build a similar technology for their customers. After all, everyone wants to stay in the know, especially when it comes to waiting on their car maintenance!

Others are innovating with concierge and pickup services, barber shops, cafeterias, and even dogs to keep customers company while they wait!

Practical tip: Test one new idea at your dealership to show customers that you value them.


Customer service isn’t a one-time experience. It’s the culture your dealership creates with the goal of making your customers feel valued. Creating a personalized, customer-focused culture in your dealership is worth the investment.


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