Regular readers of the Retail Technology newsletter may remember the first time I had a dealership pick up and return my vehicle for a service appointment. It mostly went smoothly.
I recently tried it again to schedule an oil change. My experience this time is a reminder that, while such valet services generally have advanced since the pandemic prompted many dealerships to give them a try, the technology and processes behind them are still developing.
I encountered the first hang-up when trying to schedule an appointment online. While on the website for my local dealership, the appointment scheduling tool brought up a store nearly an hour away. To avoid scheduling a service visit at the wrong dealership, I tried to reach someone via the website chat tool, which led to an email conversation with a business development center representative.
The second hang-up came while my vehicle was in the shop. I had enjoyed receiving text messages during my vehicle's last repair visit, including status updates and a video walkaround showing me the mechanical issues. This time, I didn't receive any notifications from the dealership. I called the store to reach the service adviser handling my vehicle. I emailed the BDC agent I had communicated with earlier.
I finally reached an employee who gave me a status update by phone. It turns out I didn't receive text messages because the employee who sent them that day accidentally typed my phone number incorrectly.
A service that I had booked for its convenience was not convenient this time, because of a combination of technology and process glitches. It would have been faster to drive to my neighborhood Valvoline store and wait inside my vehicle for the 30-minute service to be completed. Yet this is not a criticism of a specific dealership or of pickup and drop-off services more broadly. I'll continue to use dealership valet services because I believe they ultimately will be the more convenient choice for me.
But not all customers may agree. So dealers would be wise to examine the experience their customers are having to make sure it matches the one they want to provide. Where are customers getting hung up? How can those hang-ups be resolved?
A service that's growing is bound to have growing pains. It's important to keep those growing pains from becoming entrenched pain points.