Regular readers of the Retail Technology newsletter may remember the first time I asked a dealership to pick up and return my vehicle for a service appointment. It went mostly well.

I recently tried it again to schedule an oil change. My experience this time around reminds me that while these valet services have generally progressed since the pandemic prompted many dealerships to try them, the technology and processes behind them are still in development.

I encountered the first block while trying to book an appointment online. On my local dealership’s website, the appointment booking tool brought up a store nearly an hour away. To avoid scheduling a service visit to the wrong dealership, I tried to reach someone via the website’s chat tool, which led to an email conversation with a representative from the development center commercial.

The second hang-up occurred while my vehicle was in the workshop. I had enjoyed receiving text messages during my vehicle’s last repair visit, including status updates and a video presentation showing me the mechanical issues. This time I received no notification from the dealer. I called the store to reach the after-sales service adviser who takes care of my vehicle. I emailed the BDC agent I had contacted earlier.

I finally reached an employee who gave me a status update over the phone. Turns out I didn’t receive any text messages because the employee who sent them that day accidentally typed my phone number incorrectly.

A service I had booked for convenience was not practical this time, due to a combination of technology and process issues. It would have been quicker to drive to my neighborhood Valvoline store and wait inside my vehicle for the 30 minute service to be completed. Still, this isn’t a review of any specific dealership or pick-up and drop-off services more broadly. I will continue to use the dealership’s valet services as I believe they will ultimately be the most convenient choice for me.

But not all customers may agree. Dealerships would therefore be wise to review their customers’ experience to ensure it aligns with what they want to deliver. Where do customers hang up? How to solve these blockages?

A growing service is linked to growing pains. It is important to prevent these growing pains from becoming ingrained pain points.


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