This post has been updated since its original publish date in February 2017
Imagine a future where, with the push of a button, your customers could summon a mechanic right to their own driveway or even forecast an impending vehicle failure with a tiny implant into their engines brain. In our rapidly evolving, tech-transformative universe these possibilities are not only on the horizon of the automotive world, they have arrived on the doorstep.
Increasingly tech-savvy consumers expect businesses to be on the top of their game when it comes to trends and innovations. The drive to think outside the box and leverage unique mobile, digital and data-driven solutions within the industry means a more complete customer experience. This gives consumers the opportunity to not only seek out and compare services and providers but to likewise deliver important feedback for both businesses as well as their peers. A more efficient and effective customer experience likewise leads to a rise in consumer satisfaction and in turn, a lean forward towards an increase in profits.
“For every 10-percentage-point uptick in customer satisfaction, a company can increase revenues 2 percent to 3 percent.” McKinsey & Company, Global Research Firm
Let’s review what’s shifting (up-and-coming) in the service industry that might be of benefit to your business and the customers that are looking for more.
1. On-Demand Roadside Assistance
The days of waiting on the side of the highway in the freezing cold for hours or paying annual membership fees for services that often don’t get utilized are fading fast as apps like Honk and Urgently now connect drivers, fleets and other partners to maximize cost efficiency while providing timely service and hassle-free payments. With real-time location mapping and in-app dispatching coupled with the ability to respond to more callers in their service location, techs can eliminate downtime and maximize fleet productivity. In turn, businesses increase their margin of profitability while at the same time allowing consumers to choose fast and convenient responsive cost saving services that meet their roadside assistance needs. It’s a win-win for an industry that has long been groaning at both ends for a meet in the middle solution.
2. Predicting Vehicle Failures Before They Happen
On-demand roadside assistance, covered in the previous point, is a great advance in the service industry. However, avoiding certain vehicle failures before they leave you on the side of the road is even better!
Canadian based company, Pitstop, offers a data analyzing “plug and play solution” that when connected to a vehicle's onboard diagnostics enables both drivers and service centers to be alerted to impending mechanical failures, service recalls and important vehicle maintenance schedules. Pitstop’s goal is “to revolutionize the automotive industry and change the way dealerships service, communicate and market to their customers.” Forward thinking CEO and Founder Shiva Bhardwaj sought to engage leaders in software development, machine engineering alongside automotive professionals to bring an end to the outmoded reactive service approach and create a proactive and preventative tool for dealerships, manufacturers, and consumers.
Though Pitstop's primary goal is to improve dealer service departments, companies such as Honk and Urgently could implement some of these features in their apps to improve the consumer experience and stay front of mind when their service isn't needed. Check out this article for more details on the subject.
3. Comparing Quotes and Booking Appointments with the Push of a Button
Tired of making phone calls or driving shop to shop to get the best estimate for your automotive repair? Looking for new ways to reach customers that might have previously never walked through your door? With digital apps like OpenBay and RepairPal you can type in a symptom, service or repair need for your vehicle, obtain and review quotes from local providers and book an appointment at a time that works for you all in a few east steps. New service industry aggregators like these can act as intermediaries, allowing businesses to effortlessly reach more customers and maximize productivity while simultaneously streamlining and enhancing the consumer’s experience of shopping for service. The ability to quickly review and compare multiple estimates and providers, to conveniently book appointments and make in-app payments as well as the opportunity to take advantage of guaranteed quality service provides a new peace of mind in a busy world.
4. Your Mechanic Makes a House Call?
Without the overhead (or the overhead doors), services like U.S.'s YourMechanic and UK-based ClickMechanic now provide consumers with the convenience and cost efficiency of having your own mechanic travel to your home or office to service your vehicle. These web and mobile apps allow customers to choose from a wide menu of services, to review quotes and book a mechanic to arrive at their location, to make online payments and to keep track of their vehicle’s maintenance schedule and service history. Should all repair businesses consider offering a mobile repair service in addition to their brick and mortar shops? This would allow them to free up or even eliminate shop space and expand their mechanic’s reach to serve a broader range of consumers.
There was a time where full service gas stations were pretty luxurious -- staying in your warm car with a nice hot cup of coffee while the gas station attendant fills up your tank for you. However, in an evolving word of on-demand services, pretty soon consumers won't even have to go to a gas station at all. Startups including Booster Fuels and Filld have already adopted the on-demand fuel delivery / mobile gas station business model. Consumers can go about their busy days and schedule a fuel truck to fill up their vehicle wherever it's located all through the company's mobile app -- unless of course their vehicle is in the middle of a forest on an off-roading excursion. Both of these companies are strictly on the West Coast at this time, but will likely expand beyond the tech hub in the near future.
In a Nutshell
App developers, software engineers, and automotive professionals are working hand in hand to revolutionize the automobile service industry by becoming increasingly savvy to business and consumer experience and needs. Digital diagnostic systems along with fleets, service providers, and even distributors are merging industry demand with new technology. They’ve had their ear tuned for years not only to the knocking in the engine but on the industries door, to make a more efficient, cost-effective and satisfying experience than ever before