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Digital Kiosks Make Dealership Service Process Easier (In Theory)

Ford launches a pilot program involving digital kiosks to expedite check-in process at dealerships. Early results from this program are favorable.

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Taking your vehicle in for regular maintenance at a dealership, or god forbid you have a repair issue, can be a hassle at best. Repair service is an area that’s important to all car dealership and to all car manufacturers too. A good or bad experience can make or . That’s why Ford has launched a pilot program to take some of the pain out of this process. This pilot program is also pretty cutting edge and shows what service departments may be heading toward in the not-so-distant future.

According to Ford, this and other initiatives are part of an ongoing effort to make each piece of the vehicle ownership experience more personalized, convenient and transparent.
“Our goal is to change the perception of the dealership experience,” said Robert De Filippo, global director, Ford Retail Customer Experience. “We can start to do this by meeting rising expectations for fast and reliable service and letting each customer know they matter to us.”

Liberty Automotive Group in Ohio is one of the Ford dealerships involved in the pilot program. As a result of the increase in efficiency and customer satisfaction from the digital kiosk in their Brunswick location, the automotive group recently purchased additional kiosks for some of its other locations.

Ford Kiosk

“The way I see it, there are two types of customers,” Andrew Bellavia, Chief Operating Officer of Liberty Automotive Group said. “Customers who are coming in for quick service or maintenance on low-mileage vehicles who want to get in and out quickly, and then customers who have unique cases that they want to discuss in-depth with our service staff. These kiosks provide an option to the customer who wants to move fast, freeing up service advisors to address the more complex concerns.”

Bellavia said in December the kiosk in the Brunswick location assisted 241 out of roughly 1,100 customers, and 85 percent of these said the kiosk made their check-in process easier. According to Bellavia, a kiosk check-in on average takes a quarter of the time of a service advisor check-in.

How Does the Ford Kiosk Experience Work?
Imagine pulling up to a busy service area. All service advisors are busy assisting other customers. A wait seems eminent. Enter the digital service kiosk. Not unlike digital kiosks seen in other retail establishments such as fast-food or airline travel, digital kiosks in dealership service areas allow customers to check-in and select services without interaction with a service advisor.

Upon approaching the kiosk, the customer is prompted to enter their phone number via touchscreen. From there, the customers’ primary information is displayed for verification of name, address, vehicle type, and preferred method of contact. The customer then chooses the services their vehicle needs from various menu options and selects how they would like to be contacted with updates regarding their vehicle service. Recalls pertinent to the customers’ vehicle also are displayed on the screen during the check-in process.

Outdoor versions of the kiosk also are being piloted to provide access to vehicle drop-off or pick-up any time of day or night, regardless of service center hours. Outdoor kiosks offer similar options as the indoor iterations and will eventually have the added capability of accepting and delivering keys.
I’m always all for technology especially if it saves us time. Waiting in line sucks. Having to deal with customer service folks who may be having a bad day or may just have generally bad attitudes can only make your day worse too. So for me, this kiosk idea seems like a winner for Ford. What do you say? Weigh in on this by commenting below.

For more about Ford’s reliability, check out this article I wrote regarding the Ford F-150 and the Mustang.

See you in my next story titled "2007 Mustang GT500 One Of The Best Mustangs To Roll Out Of Ford’s Factory."

Jimmy Dinsmore has been an automotive journalist for more than a decade and been a writer since the high school. His Driver’s Side column features new car reviews and runs in several newspapers throughout the country. He is also co-author of the book “Mustang by Design” and “Ford Trucks: A Unique Look at the Technical History of America’s Most Popular Truck”. Also, Jimmy works in the social media marketing world for a Canadian automotive training aid manufacturing company. Follow Jimmy on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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