Aftersales online: never an afterthought

  15 September 2014

A host of useful, informative and serious points emerged from Aftersales in the Digital Age, the Auto Retail Network conference we held last week. However, there is one among the many raised I’d like to focus on: many retailers devote too little effort to their online aftersales offering.

Despite the significant swing to digital browsing by consumers, and corresponding shifts in emphasis by new and used-car sales departments, aftersales is too often left behind.

If you doubt this, use the amazingly simple test suggested by one of the speakers – tot up how many pages of your website are dedicated to new and used car sales and how many are there for aftersales.

So many retailer websites still only provide a single page with a map and a phone number. And that’s despite a mass of surveys showing that car owners would happily book servicing online – if only given the chance to.

Indeed, evidence presented by several speakers indicated that price wasn’t the deciding factor when booking a service; instead it was quality and convenience. And this trend was even more prominent among younger consumers.

Used properly, this information coupled to online booking was suggested as a good means of smoothing over any difference between regular servicing prices and those for older cars because if a registration and mileage are entered, only the relevant price need be displayed.

On top of this, using an online system can be used to spell out different servicing options: do customers want a loan car, or would they prefer collect and deliver?.

And if that wasn’t enough, it also stops staff too readily giving away margin because online blocks customers who haggle.

While anyone with much aftersales experience will readily recognise much in what I’ve just said, those at the conference also pointed out that many retail bosses came up through sales departments and so don’t understand enough of how aftersales impacts on the whole business.

Tristan Young

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