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I doubt that a dealership service department exists that hasn’t had to deal with a customer claim that their vehicle was damaged while being serviced. Whether it’s a minor scratch, or something bigger, these types of claims cost dealerships money. It’s not always a customer who is trying to get a free cosmetic repair. Sometimes the customer simply did not previously notice the damage. Most dealerships have an inspection procedure in place when taking a vehicle for service. However, typically it is very basic and just involves a piece of paper on a clipboard, with a cursory walk around by the advisor.
A recent article in Automotive News shared how one dealership in Baltimore installed hidden security cameras in its service department to combat these claims. Reportedly, the service manager found that 9 out of 10 times the damage already existed. “It’s more than a monetary deal. The customer feels very bad if you damage their car. But if you can show them you didn’t damage their car, then they feel satisfied, and that makes them happier than anything,” said Jeff Sterry, the service manager at BMW of Catonsville, according to the article.
While these claims are typically ambiguous, to maintain good CSI, many dealers opt to go ahead and repair the damage. This can end up costing thousands of dollars per year. A good video system, as covered above, is an excellent way to save the dealership money. At the same time it can prevent customers from defecting due to a feeling a dealership is simply careless with their vehicle. Many dealers, however, don’t want to invest in what could be a costly video surveillance system.
Well, there could be a very cheap and easy solution: The goal of these hidden security cameras is to provide photographic evidence of the state of the vehicle when it’s being transferred from the consumer to the dealership and back. Your dealership already has the capabilities to do this. I am pretty sure that every employee in your service department has a smartphone with a camera. Chances are that they are also doing some sort of walk around on every vehicle already. Why not simply integrate photo and/or video into your walk around to capture a vehicle’s condition? If you’re worried about requiring employees to use their phones, a simple digital camera or iPad would accomplish the same goal.
The integration of this technology and process is relatively inexpensive. It provides your dealership with photographic and/or video evidence that could be reviewed in instances where customers complain.
In the event of a claim, you would simply need to review the evidence with the client then take appropriate action, depending on the outcome.
Customer retention and satisfaction are vital to success and growth. If you cannot satisfy a customer complaint regarding damages while their vehicle was in your care, you open yourself up to losing future business from that customer. And in today’s Internet age, there is also a high probability that they will post negative reviews and share that negative experience with their family and friends. This can then cost you additional service business and/or sales.
Think about it. Technology is a wonderful thing. And this is something that does not require any learning curve or real investment in technology. Why not give it a try? You have nothing to lose, and could gain substantial lost profit and customer satisfaction.