Lindsey Trett, 31
Director of service process implementation, Walser Automotive Group
The idea for creating a lean workshop started more than a year ago at a Buick-GMC dealership in Bloomington, Minn.
As Walser Automotive Group's service business development center manager, Lindsey Trett had created a vehicle pickup and drop-off program at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in the spring of 2020. The group also had set out to improve how it forecast volume in its service departments and planned out days and weeks; technicians were allowed to build their own schedules.
That effort culminated with MyTech, a personal service technician program through which a customer interacts with the same tech on each visit, from scheduling appointments to diagnosing vehicle ailments — similar to the relationship between a doctor and a patient, Trett said.
In the past, service advisers were the main customer contacts, she said. Techs had minimal interaction with owners of the vehicles they fixed. Yet in satisfaction surveys, customers told Walser they wanted more direct communication with their technicians and more trust and transparency.
Walser started the program at the Buick-GMC of Bloomington store because its customer satisfaction scores were below national and regional averages in 2018 and 2019, said Trett, who implemented a number of process changes in her current role as director of service process implementation.
Techs now have their own phone numbers and business cards to give to customers. A one-on-one relationship is established when setting the first appointment, she said, and repeat customers now call their technicians directly.
Service advisers' roles shifted, too, to a support role to technicians. It has taken time for employees and customers to get used to the new model, Trett said, which is why the program is slowly being rolled out to other dealerships.
But so far, the effort is paying off. From November to May, as the personal technician program began to ramp up, the Buick-GMC store's service customer satisfaction metrics increased by an average of 7.5 percentage points across all 21 categories that General Motors scores, Trett said.
Customers "love hearing from the person who worked on their vehicle, touched it, who knows it best," she said. "They don't feel the same sort of sales-like added pressure they maybe once felt before. They can tell it's more of an honest recommendation from the technician. It's more friendly that way."
— Lindsay VanHulle