Perhaps given the big push needed by the COVID-19 pandemic, many automotive repair and service shops implemented contactless touchpoints for consumers. And it seems that many customers are happy their shops did.
Initiatives like contactless service, remote service, online service scheduling, communicating with customers more via email or text may have been initially viewed as measures to respond to public health restrictions after COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization in March 2020, said J.D. Ney, automotive practice lead at J.D. Power Canada.
Similar measures were implemented by many industries, including the automotive aftermarket. And there appears to be little reason to let them go, he said during a recent episode of AutoServiceWorld Conversations. Some consumers may view that as going back in time and reversing the advancements made in customer service.
“Turns out people really like them,” Ney said of the measures. “From a customer experience perspective, there’s certainly a percentage of vehicle owners that are probably not going to want to go back to kind of a time-intensive high-touch service experience, even though that used to be what we would coach — you have to build the relationship and build rapport and spend a lot of time talking to your customers. That is definitely still going to be true for a portion of them.”
The majority will still want that deeper relationship but the gap between low- and high-touch isn’t a gulf.
“I would peg, at the moment, somewhere around kind of like a 70/30 to 60/40 split,” Ney estimated. “So 70 per cent of people [are] still looking for what you might refer to as kind of a traditional service occasion that looks very much like all the service occasions that everyone’s been used to for 100 years give or take.
“And a growing group … skewing younger, but not necessarily just confined to a younger demographic, that is looking for a much more seamless, low friction interaction, specifically around those simpler maintenance requirements.”