By Jackson Hayes
With all the headlines detailing how automakers and dealers are trying to negotiate the changing automotive retail model, it is perhaps lost on some that service providers to the industry have to operate with an equal amount of forethought and vision to keep pace.
Such was the topic for LGM’s OEM Forum held in Toronto in early November. The exclusive gathering saw a few dozen executives from a number of OEMs hear presentations about new customer service expectations and growing trends around service excellence.
“We want to ensure your brand experience spills into the F&I office in every way,” explained Diana Ricketts, VP of strategic partners at LGM Financial Services.
Ricketts, who spoke first, talked about the growing need for dealerships and auto companies to leverage customer service as a competitive differentiator. And as the digitization of the sales processes deepens – a transition she called from “bricks to clicks” – so comes a new set of expectations around speed, transparency and efficiency.
Her presentation included a video detailing the level of customer service super luxury carmaker Bugatti has achieved with its customer company command centre. The platform connects all Bugatti data sources including marketing, customer service and even the cars themselves to ensure every aspect of the business and the pricey vehicles is running smoothly.
While the realities of Bugatti and its technology platform would be out of reach for a car dealer and virtually every OEM, she said the same principals Bugatti uses should apply to the entire industry on some level: cater to customers looking for convenience, transparency, rapid response so they can shop whenever they want for every aspect of the vehicle transaction.
Ricketts was followed by J.D. Ney from J.D. Power, who addressed trends around service excellence. U.S. author and customer service expert Micah Solomon spoke last. LGM reps said the company has focused on meeting the changing market head on. That strategy has led to a new focus on claims and service tools as well as its structures and processes.
The new “customer-centric claims model,” for example, mirrors the OEM model and allows dealers to approve claims automatically without calling in. And following the move earlier this year that opened up dealer support on Saturdays, Ricketts said LGM would soon move to virtual call centres where the service team can take calls anywhere, anytime.