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Mazda’s mobile-appointment scheduling aims to ease customer-dealer relations

The automaker’s Xtime-assisted mobile foray also will allow anyone in the dealership to answer the phone, book service orders and ensure efficient use of the shop. It shows how mobile can bring value to the operation of vehicle dealerships, including both the consumer experience and the management of service departments.

“It’s about being as convenient as possible for the customer to do business with the dealership – meeting customers where they are, whether at home, at the office or in and at their vehicle,” said Chris Ice, vice president of product marketing for Xtime.

“Delivering consistent information through all aspects of the customer experience is key to building consumer trust,” he said. “Consumer trust is important to improve retention, both to the dealer and the brand, which further improves dealer profitability and repurchase loyalty.”

Ownership experience
For Mazda’s North American operations, the initiative is a way to improve the ownership experience, increasing customer loyalty. Service managers using Xtime will be able to review Web statistic reports to gain insight into a customer’s online booking experience.

By using Xtime’s service lane tool, service department staff can use tablets to meet customers on the service driveway, confirm appointments and determine more precisely what needs to be done with the vehicle.

Self-managing appointments.

Tablets also can capture walk-around inspections and vehicle conditions and display a vehicle’s history.

The 24/7 self-scheduling tool will let vehicle owners select appointment times based on availability, adviser or transportation.

Mazda’s initiatives reflect the growing importance of how auto brands leverage mobile service to cater to buyers.

Brands are realizing that mobile service communications can build vehicle and dealer loyalty mainly through providing a way for a dealer to stay connected with owners post-sale.

Supporting Mazda’s mobile service-appointment system are Xtime-provided reminders delivered through email and SMS. The system also confirms that the dealership knows the customer is coming and that the dealer is ready to receive the customer.

When the customer arrives at the dealership for the appointment, the service advisor will greet customers on the service driveway with all pertinent customer and vehicle information in hand on a tablet, including service history, past inspection history, tire recommendations and deferred services.

Paying online
The dealer can update the customer via email or SMS throughout the day about the vehicle’s status and notify him or her when the vehicle is ready, available for online bill-pay.

Seamlessly integrating service and mobile.

“All these functions run on a single integrated platform so the information presented to the advisor and customer is consistent through every phase of the process,” Mr. Ice said. “This builds a positive and trustworthy customer experience.

“The bottom line impact is increased customer retention and repurchase loyalty, increased service department utilization and parts sales, as well as differentiation of the dealer service experience from anything provided by independent or aftermarket chains,” he said.

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York