Smartphone apps are breaking into the automotive service business. The question is: Whose apps should service departments embrace?
Mark Boyadjis, a senior analyst at IHS Automotive, says smartphone apps for vehicle repair and routine maintenance will become more essential as driver-to-vehicle technology becomes more sophisticated.
"The more our cars are connected, the more app integration becomes an important aspect of the customer experience," said Boyadjis. "Our lives are already very centered around our smartphones."
Automotive service apps are likely the way of the future for dealer service departments, he said.
"Cars are built on code now, and dealers can be looking at connectivity as both an opportunity and a threat."
Apps that allow over-the-air software updates can diminish the frequency of dealership visits, Boyadjis said, while those that tell the customer when the car needs maintenance can result in more predictable, but perhaps less frequent, service visits. On the flip side, apps also have the potential to streamline service and change the way consumers deal with maintenance.
Many automakers and dealership groups have developed their own service apps, but there is also a laundry list of independent startups whose apps offer more on-demand service.
These apps aren't always just for drivers, though.