When a vehicle is in the shop for service, there are several processes that can cause headaches for both the customer and the service professionals. There’s the need to explain the required repairs to a customer who must approve them but may not understand them. There’s the game of phone tag that can slow things down. And then there’s the need to wait to pay before getting the car back.
Mazda addressed these challenges in 2019 by introducing Mazda Digital Service, a set of tools and processes that enables dealers to provide customers with vehicle inspection videos, a choice of communication methods, and mobile invoicing and payment.
Today, the company reports that this program has provided benefits to customers, service advisors and technicians. In a brochure explaining Mazda Digital Service and other resources to dealers, Mazda says these tools and processes have improved customer satisfaction, boosted “likely to return” scores and increased the average dollars per repair order 25%.
“We launched Mazda Digital Service to aid our dealers with delivering the ultimate Mazda experience,” a Mazda North American Operations (MNAO) spokesperson told PYMNTS in an email interview. “Customers appreciate staying connected, and with this service they can expect expedited pickup through digital invoicing and payment, process efficiencies through the use of technology, and transparency by way of video inspections.”
An Uptick in Use of Digital Payments
With the digital invoicing and bill pay, customers can see how much the service order will cost and can pay for it ahead of time. When dealers complete the approved service, the customers are notified by phone, text or email. The customer is then provided the option to pay prior to picking up the vehicle.
If the customer selects this option, an invoice is sent and they can pay via a secured link. The customer can use any credit card that the dealer accepts. Some of the approved platforms also allow dealers to offer payment plans through third-party vendors, such as the buy now, pay later (BNPL) solution Sunbit.
“By paying for service prior to pickup, the dealership can have the vehicle ready for the customer and simply hand them their keys when they arrive,” the MNAO spokesperson said. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw an uptick in the use of digital payments, and digital invoicing and payment remains our focus as we expect to see growth in this area due to increased dealership adoption of the technology.”
Greater Transparency Through Video
With another component of Mazda Digital Service, the video inspections, a Mazda service technician takes a walkaround inspection video of the vehicle and sends it the customer, showing them where service or repair is needed. The customer can review the video on their phone and choose whether to approve the work.
“Efforts have focused on video inspections as we believe this builds trust with the customer and improves their experience,” the spokesperson said.
With the communications component of Mazda Digital Service, customers can schedule service appointments and, when their vehicle is in the shop, receive status updates. They can choose to communicate via text, email or phone. The MNAO spokesperson said that after video, texting is the second most utilized tool because most customers prefer to communicate in that way.
Improvements in Throughput
As well as providing these benefits to customers, Mazda Digital Service has been well received by service advisors and technicians, and has had a positive impact on both their customer satisfaction scores and their revenues.
“Service advisors that have integrated Digital Service tools into their business have told us that it has improved their throughput due to faster customer response times and reduced phone tag with customers,” the MNAO spokesperson said. “Technicians feel like they can play a greater role in the service process because the customer is now hearing vehicle needs directly from the experts.”
When Mazda Digital Service was launched in 2019, several dealers were already using some of the tools, via the companies that are now partners with Mazda in this program. Before launching, Mazda consulted with many of them and learned that this technology had enhanced the experience for their customers. Now, as of Nov. 1, there are 410 dealers — 75% of Mazda’s dealer body — enrolled in Mazda Digital Service.
“We are hearing from dealers that the technology features, notably the video, are leading to more service work as well as increased customer satisfaction scores,” the MNAO spokesperson said. “Word of mouth is spreading about the benefits of the technology.”