Scheduling Your Success – A Dentist’s Approach


Zac Stringam, Marketing Manager, ADP Lightspeed
August 28, 2012
Filed under Guest Blog

There is a lot going on in the backdrop. Customers - especially the younger ones - perceive that a dealership's Service department is more expensive. They are less loyal and more likely to go to independents. So you ask, how do we get more customer-pay business? It comes down to improving your customer's experience. It's all about the process, the people, and the technology.

The Service Department - Your Gateway To Repeat Business

First, we as an industry need to realize the fact that the service department can be cumbersome, time consuming, and ultimately do not lead to customer retention. Then we need to adopt changes that can make this whole workflow much more streamlined.

Walking through a dealership's service processes I see that they're thinking about it in the wrong way. Right now, it's a series of transactions. What it should be is a continuous flow of experiences that spans the lifecycle of the customer's major unit.

Great service experiences will linger with your customer. Hook them now and you'll have them throughout the cycle. Are you setting up that first appointment before your customer leaves your dealership with their new unit? Do you have an easy way to do that? If you don't you're missing out on repeat business.

Think of how your dentist does it - you can't leave that place without setting up a new appointment. They do it before you pay your bill. Those people follow a tight process to get you to come back in. They're not thinking about it like a transaction. They're thinking in the long-term customer lifecycle way. And my dentist is vigilant on email and text reminders. Why? To reduce no-shows. Same rule applies at the dealership level.

Make Suggestions

How do you interact with a customer after that first appointment? Think of's model - when you log in, you are given suggestions for what you might like or what other's who have similar taste have either viewed or purchased. Amazon has perfected this workflow. The same principles apply to your dealership, such as suggested maintenance and annual servicing through email or even direct mail.

Do you also want to appeal to the younger buyers who tend to be less loyal? They don't want paper mail. They want everything available at their fingertips. They grew up using online services like They are looking for a different level of service.

It needs to be easy, it needs to be fast, and it needs to complete. They see value in you or someone else keeping track on all this stuff for them and just let them know when they need it. Ask anybody under the age of 35 and they'll tell you the same thing. Want to keep these millennials as customers? Do business the way they want to do business.

It's About Communication

When you look at the service department in the eyes of the customer, often what they see is something that is a hassle, inconvenient and generally a time drain in their day or week. If a customer calls to come in for service on their unit, there has to be a solid line of communication between members of the service department and other departments. If there is some level of human error or miscommunication, it is the customer who suffers and feels that the dealership they've chosen to work with was not worth their time.

All of this communication centers on the department manager. Not keeping this key person informed of customer issues with automatic surveys, maintenance progress or team cohesion can lead to a service department that is falling apart in the eyes of a customer. You need seamless communication that sees everything from the past customer interactions and gives you the opportunity to upsell. Otherwise you're leaving money on the table and not building trust.

Focus On The Customer

Lightspeed has an answer for dealers wanting to see everything about their customer all in one screen. Full Customer View will be available in the next release of EVO and NXT. This feature will give dealers critical customer information all under a single screen. This tool will empower every employee at the dealership to the right information at the right time; ultimately improving customer service. And we all know that a happy customer leads to a repeat customer.

So take your cues from the dentist - customer pay, a seamless process and workflow, and a better experience. And just like the dentist using this process will be much less painful.

Zac Stringam is marketing manager at ADP Lightspeed. He can be reached at


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