Friday, August 29, 2014

The Connected Vehicle—How Will It Make Appointments ‘More Convenient’? by Annie Cui

The connected vehicle may not yet be a trending hashtag on Twitter, but more and more vehicle owners are catching on to the technology revolution.


In fact, according to our 2014 Consumer Sentiment Survey, 70% of the consumers who currently have in-vehicle telematics stated they would like a telematics system in their next vehicle.


In-vehicle telematics systems can warn owners of needed repairs, low tire pressure, and upcoming factory recommended maintenance, as well as send notifications to the owner’s smart phone device. Some telematics systems, such as GM’s OnStar and Hyundai’s BlueLink, even notify the owner’s preferred dealer of their customer’s upcoming recommended maintenance. The dealer will then call up the owner to help them schedule their needed appointment.


But what if we simplified that even more?


Telematics developers are working on further automating the scheduling process to achieve the easiest customer ownership experience. Soon, the telematics system will not only notify the owner that their vehicle needs a service, it will allow the customer to see and select available appointments at their preferred dealer, and then automatically send that dealership all crucial vehicle telematics data.


The telematics will integrate directly with the dealer’s appointment ledger and allow the consumer to simply click on a time that works for him or her on the in-vehicle screen or on their mobile device. Then, the dealer will automatically receive the appointment notification with the service and owner info, the vehicle health report, and the vehicle history. This technology will eliminate the time wasted when the owner has to search for their dealer’s contact info, call the dealer, explain the service needed, and then try to find an appointment time that works for both parties, which can take several minutes.


The idea is that the telematics system will establish an instant connection between the vehicle and the dealer, thereby making things more convenient for the customer. The vehicle and the dealership can work simultaneously to run technical diagnostics and identify vehicle issues before the customer arrives, making it possible to know what parts are needed ahead of time and improve inventory fill rates. When the customer arrives at the service lane, the dealer will have all the necessary parts ready. Dealers can also boost shop loading and capacity management as service advisors and technicians can better plan their time, thereby improving efficiency. Not only will this speed up the repair process and reduce customer wait time, this can also improve the accuracy of dealer service timing.


Our 2014 Consumer Sentiment survey shows that the 2nd and 3rd most important factors for a customer selecting a service outlet are 1) one that has “[their] vehicle available promptly at the time they estimated”, and 2) “sets appointment quickly at a convenient time.” Telematics technology will enable dealers to improve performance on both criteria, making it possible for them to give more accurate time estimates and allowing owners to schedule a service appointment at their desired time directly from the seat of their vehicle or the screen on their phone. How much easier does it get?


Telematics technology will not only increase the accuracy and convenience of appointment scheduling, but this will likely get more customers to come into the dealership in the first place. When the customer’s telematics screen or mobile device shows appointment availability, it will only display dealers. The screen might show a few local dealers and the owner’s preferred dealer, leaving the customer to choose. Customers that would normally service their vehicles at a chain or IRF could end up scheduling the appointment with recommended dealers that come up on the screen, just because of the added convenience the telematics technology provides.


The accessibility of appointment scheduling in the vehicle, through the telematics system, will make the owner’s life easier. The better the customer experience, the more likely it is that the customer will come back to the dealership for more. However, the added convenience from telematics scheduling is dependent on the customer maintaining his or her subscription to the telematics system.


Bottom Line: The fully connected car is going to revolutionize the interactions between vehicles, their owners, and the dealers. The added convenience of scheduling appointments through in-vehicle telematics will change customer perceptions and set higher expectations for the ease of vehicle services. Dealers have to get on board and keep up with these technology improvements, or they will get cooked.**


**The link is to “Been There Done That” on MyGuy. The blog is about the importance of understanding the benefits of technology and the risk of dealer complacency associated with having the minimal upgrade from their manual processes (mostly about service lane inspection).


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