There is a new tool that allows General Motors’ around 1,200 dealerships help service departments increase customer retention and service revenues. Dealers are now having their service advisers use a tablet laden with a software program “Service Workbench” that allows them to immediately see a vehicle's history, course through an inspection and detail a menu of factory-recommended maintenance items.
While similar systems have been employed by Chrysler Group, Hyundai Motor America, Sonic Automotive Inc. and AutoNation Inc., GM is using it on a wide scale. GM has already made the tablet tool available to its 4,300 stores for free in early 2013. Just as a customer drives his vehicle in the service lane, a service adviser would use a tablet to enter the vehicle identification number and mileage.
Information like any outstanding recalls, warranty eligibility, claims history and customer-pay work will then pop up. The service advisor would then do a walk-around of the vehicle using a list of inspection items like battery life and tire tread. Each item would be rated green, yellow or red based on the urgency of the needed service.
Once the customer decides on the service, he or she will get printout of the services agreed to and those declined, along with the total cost. If a customer declines to service or replace part that is rated yellow or red, GM would send a mailer within the next week offering a discount.
Brian Hoglund, a former director in GM's Customer Care and Aftersales division who oversaw the tool's rollout, remarked that the main goals are to get a more consistent, better customer experience while helping the dealer and service director to manage their business better.
According to Hoglund, who now holds a new position at GM, dealers who have adopted the system are "growing their business." Dave Wright, director of fixed operations at Shaheen Chevrolet in Lansing, Mich., told Automotive News their service department has doubled its labor sales and its parts sold per transaction in its quick lube lane since using the new system as part of a GM pilot over two years ago. [source: automotive news - sub. required]