A gap exists between vehicle infotainment systems and their untapped value to dealership service departments.

The breach costs dealers opportunities to build service retention and revenue. It can hurt automakers, too.

Automakers continually collect and analyze data streaming from vehicle onboard diagnostic and infotainment technologies. They use this data to identify performance, safety and other issues in order to improve vehicle quality and limit recalls.

If this performance, scheduled maintenance and safety data also were to be received by a motorist’s dealership, here is what would happen:

  • Dealers would be first in line to notify their customers when service is warranted.
  • Through automated appointment technology, customers could simply confirm or modify appointments.
  • Customers would receive more convenient and faster service because alert codes would enable technicians to pre-diagnose incoming vehicles. Parts availability could be confirmed so work could begin as soon as the customer authorizes it.
  • Dealers would provide customers with car-care Web pages containing service histories, receipts, service menus and work recommended but not yet performed. With such transparency, customers could better plan future service needs, and budget for them.

Cloud-based technology would bridge this gap to relay important vehicle needs directly to motorists and their dealerships.

The benefit to the customer is an exceptional service experience and a safe, well-maintained vehicle. Automakers would sell more parts and strengthen brand loyalty. Dealers would sell more service and parts and strengthen customer retention.

Many automakers have not realized the full potential of this data. This is changing, however. Capturing vehicle owner retention and revenue was a core focus of a recent Telematics Detroit conference.

Hyundai, for instance, is beginning to deliver this 360-degree maintenance model to its customers through its Blue Link system.

Embedded telematics systems are a customer-retention tool, says Roger Lanctot, associate director-global automotive practice for Strategy Analytics.

“The lowest point of customer satisfaction is also the highest point of customer defection: when a motorist has a problem with their vehicle,” he says in a white paper.

“This is why OEMs and their dealers will want to be sure that their telematics diagnostic devices are in place so they can guide and direct drivers with alerts to a solution, which in most cases will be the dealership.”

Eighty percent of vehicles on the road are in need of service or repair, says CarMD.  A well-designed customer retention system addresses many of the reasons people delay vehicle-service needs.

In a CarMD survey, customers say they delay service due to lack of time, not understanding the seriousness of a problem and fear of learning the nature of the problem.

Using telematics to ease the decision to service helps dealers maintain market share. Dealers need every advantage they can get to retain their customers.

Dealers deserve a better way to retain customers and earn more service opportunities from them.

Telematics can leverage the trust drivers have in service and repair recommendations originating from their vehicles.

A bi-directional, cloud-based retention management system makes it easier and more convenient for drivers to stay connected to their dealership.

Advanced notification of diagnostic alerts helps the dealership plan the service visit, ensuring parts and technician availability to reduce customer wait times. Alerts generate app appointments and confirmations with drivers, boosting show rates.

Telematics-enabled customer retention is the missing link that completes the modern automotive ownership experience.

Neal East is CEO of Xtime, a company that provides online service scheduling software and customer-relationship management systems to dealerships.