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Creating Loyal Customers: A Case Study on Gaining Loyalty in Auto Dealership Services

By creating a positive guest experience, my dealership makes appointment scheduling and waiting while my car is serviced easy, comfortable and convenient.

I’ve always avoided buying from car dealerships due to pushy salespeople and high-pressure finance agents, preferring instead to find newer, used cars online. But in 2020, my older car needed too many expensive repairs. So, I took advantage of one of the many dealership pandemic specials offered to drum up business during tough economic times.

I took the leap and bought a 2020 Ford Escape in the perfect shade of red. With my new car, I felt like I’d traveled in time, ditching my 2004 Toyota with 220,000 miles for a brand new vehicle with multiple safety and notification features, heated seats and a lengthy warranty for repairs.

Even with my new car and a mostly pleasant (except for the pushy finance guy) buying experience, I still had a mistrust of dealership service departments when it came to repairs. I planned to go to my regular mechanic when I could if any repairs came up.

Meanwhile, my Ford Escape came with the FordPass app, which kept me posted via email and my smartphone on the maintenance schedule. The app also gave me enough points for at least a couple of oil changes. So, when the time came for service and replacement of a taillight that I damaged while backing up, I visited with the dealership service department.

Even with my mistrust of dealerships, I was pleasantly surprised by my customer experience with the service department. Since I must visit a Ford dealership for repairs while the car is under warranty, I know I’ll return to this dealership over competitors for service and repairs.

Here are five factors that contributed to a positive auto dealership service department customer experience, gained my loyalty and made this dealership one that I’ll recommend to others.

1. No long phone hold times

When I call to make service appointments, a friendly, helpful receptionist answers the phone promptly and transfers me directly to the service department to make an appointment. I never get the runaround or have to wait for several minutes on hold.

This quick and easy process means I don’t have to dread being on hold forever or dealing with a surly employee who’s in the wrong line of work. That makes me more likely to return for service.

2. Highly organized check-in

What I love about this dealership is that when I have an appointment, I just drive up to the designated check-in area, hand my keys to the staffer who keeps the line moving and head directly inside to a service department employee who checks me in quickly.

I never have to wait because this service department is fully staffed in order to provide an excellent guest experience.

3. More than one waiting area

One thing I always disliked about auto repair shops I’d used in the past was the dingy, dirty waiting room with a blaring TV and coffee that could pass for motor oil. That’s not a problem at my new favorite dealership.

Sure, there’s a service waiting area with a TV, ample seating, coffee and bottled water. But there’s also a large, well-lit area with big windows nearby for waiting customers who need quiet. So, if I prefer to work on my laptop while I wait, I can work without distractions.

4. Guest Wi-Fi

I must get online to work, and I can easily access the dealership’s guest Wi-Fi and use my security software’s virtual private network (VPN) for added security. Being able to work while I’m waiting makes the appointment less disruptive to my workday.

5. Free car wash

After my car is serviced, I simply walk out the door to a freshly washed vehicle for my drive home. This added touch tops off my positive guest experience and makes me feel good about the services I’ve received.

For someone who once harbored serious misgivings about car dealership service departments, it didn’t take much to make me feel comfortable and valued by this dealership. A positive guest experience was all I needed to change my mind.