By Nathan Cooper, Product Marketing Manager
A Guide to Online Service Booking & why it’s important to your aftersales team
Online Service Booking software and solutions for Automotive retailers and OEMs have been around for a long time. And over the last 10 years, technology and tools available within the Online Service Booking software have grown and given automotive retailers more ways to interact with customers.
But surprisingly, only 17% of OEM desktop sites allow consumers to make a specific service booking online (day and time), and only 10% allow a general service booking enquiry to be made. For automotive retailers it’s a similar story, with 18% of dealer mobile sites allowing consumers to make a specific service booking online (day and time) and only 32% allow a general service booking enquiry to be made.*
Customers are now calling for better Online Service Booking tools, with 44% saying they want to book a specific date and time, and 74% saying they would use some kind of Online Service Booking solution if available.
The data shows that customers now expect/want an Online Service Booking solution to be in place, but automotive retailers and OEMs need to catch up to the demands of the consumer.
So, what can you expect from Online Service Booking platforms in the market today?
There are varying degrees of Online Service Booking solutions in the marketplace today. These vary greatly in terms of functionality, and many require manual intervention by the aftersales service advisor to facilitate the transaction.
This may be why many automotive retailers today still don’t have an Online Service Booking platform in place as its seen as another process for service advisors to manage. Let’s look at some of the options available:
Some automotive retailers offer Online Service Booking in the shape of a simple webform; this webform then emails the service advisor team for them to respond to the customer. These forms are simple to setup but offer very limited functionality and require the service advisor to receive the email, contact the customer and then make the booking.
Although the easiest to set up, the limitations of the Online Service Booking process include time to respond to customers, no date/time selections by the customer and no service costs displayed. However, it’s simple and easy to get it live on the retailer website.
Online Service Booking platform – stand-alone
More advanced Online Service Booking platforms give customers more options to select from and more clarity over things such as service costs.
These Online Service Booking platforms often have integrations or data held within them, such as the ability to include menu pricing for service costs, promotional offers or add-on items like MOT tests or air con refreshes. These systems also give customers the option to select a date and time for the service work to be completed, as well as courtesy cars and other items.
These systems diaries, however, are not directly linked to the DMS or workshop diary. So they still require the service advisor to receive the booking, check against the workshop availability and then call the customer back to confirm the booking – or, as often is the case, offer the customer a different date and time to the one that was selected.
These standalone Online Service Booking systems do offer a greater level of functionality for customers, work great on the retailer website and provide opportunities for upsell. However, the lack of direct access to the live diary can lead to some customer frustration if the date and time they originally selected changes once the service advisor call is made.
Online Service Booking platform – workshop diary integrated
The final type of Online Service Booking platform available has full integration into the workshop diary. Not only do these platforms have integrations like the standalone version, connecting to menu pricing tools, tyre providers, etc., but the calendar shown for booking the service is directly linked to the live diary. So if the customer selects a date/time, they get it – with no need for the service advisor to contact them to confirm unless that process is set by the aftersales team.
The value of this integration is twofold. First, the customer expectation is met, and they receive fantastic service by getting the date and time they selected. Second, service advisor time is not lost contacting all bookings that come in, saving them hours each week. It’s a win-win situation for the customer and the retailer.
The importance of having an Online Service Booking platform for your retailer or OEM website is clear. More than three-quarters of all customers expect this to be available, and nearly half would want it to offer a specific date and time for them to choose from.
For us, offering a system that can provide excellent levels of detail on services, service costs and upsell opportunities, as well as connecting directly to the live workshop diary, is the best and most complete option. However, just starting the journey and putting a basic solution in place is a step in the right direction and will support better customer outcomes.
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*Source CitNOW Group website research 2022