There is not a single one of us who enjoys waiting for hours while our vehicle is being serviced or repaired. Customers are generally accommodated in cramped waiting rooms with inadequate and uncomfortable seating, out of date magazines and newspapers, a flickering TV and if they are lucky will have access to a machine that dispenses stale coffee.
Many car dealerships and service centers are now trying to woo customers by enhancing their level of customer service by making this wait more enjoyable. By the end of 2018, many dealers realized that about half of their profits came from the service department (including the parts and the body shop).
Customers are more savvy and many of them use the internet to conduct their pre-purchase research and learn more about the prices of different models. This translates into lower margins in the case of new cars, and thus service is getting more attention. With most models in the same segment being comparable in terms of efficiency and price, what differentiates one model from the other is the amenities and the level of service that is offered.
Some service stations have a free coffee bar with snacks. Others might have an attached gym for a free gym session. Most of them as a matter of course offer free pickup and delivery services. One Toyota dealer in the United States has a play area for children, a movie theater, a hair salon and a shoeshine area. On Wednesdays, free manicures are provided for customers. They benefit from the highest level of pampering so that getting their cars serviced or repaired becomes a truly enjoyable experience.
Automotive manufacturers are also setting up “experience centers” for their brands. One example is Intersect by Lexus which is a hybrid of a luxury car showroom and a traditional retail space. Located in Dubai’s International Financial Centre, it a boutique and cafe that was set up after the immense success of a similar store Lexus set up in Tokyo. Lexus billed the space as one that allowed guests to experience the Lexus brand without getting behind the steering wheel. There are touches of the motoring world throughout the café like an imposing bamboo facade inspired by the Lexus Spindle Grille and benches sporting the the same leather used in the Lexus LFA supercar. The food comprises “feel good cuisine” consisting of light and uncomplicated dishes. Intersect also partnered with the RAW Coffee Company to serve customers with new and exclusive coffees each season. The lower floor has a 500 sq.ft. garage-cum-event space with hexagonal black and white tiles, which resemble tire tracks. Another feature is wall that is made entirely of miniature Lexus cars, about 1500 of them, which span the history of the brand. A curated library specializing in English, Arabic and Japanese literature, design, art, architecture and lifestyle is a place where guests are encouraged to browse at their leisure.
Such facilities and perks like pickup and dropoff will slowly draw customers back to the dealerships and service centers as they get to save time and energy and benefit from unexpected freebies. Upgrading the service facilities with cappuccino machines and video game consoles, while also reducing the time customers have to wait will definitely pay off in the long run.
Manju Mathew, an MBA in marketing, completed publisher training courses from the Oxford Brookes University and New York University. She started with marketing and PR roles before moving on to her current position as a full time writer. Currently living in Dubai, her life as an expat has sharpened her observation skills and flair for writing. She enjoys writing about luxury cars like Ferrari, Lamborghini, etc even if she can only dream of owning them.
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