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Survey: What vehicle owners now demand from your service team

Michelle Garcia, Log in to subscribe to the Blog

Even having spent the past 20+ years working in the automotive industry, the global scale and reach of the industry on consumers’ lives never ceases to amaze me. In fact, over 77 million new automobiles were sold worldwide last year. With an average length of new-vehicle ownership around seven years, an owner who adheres to a minimum 30-60-90 maintenance schedule may still find themselves visiting a dealer or other service provider approximately once every two years for a major unscheduled repair.

Maintenance and repair services provided after the sale – aftermarket services – are a critical and growing source of revenue and profitability for automakers, dealers, and providers. As automakers and dealers seek to increase service retention, there is an opportunity to create and reinforce valuable customer relationships through the delivery of differentiated experiences and increased rigor around these ownership moments.

At Pega, we wanted to understand global vehicle owners’ thoughts on aftermarket services – what’s working, what needs improvement, and how preferences may affect decision-making – so in the fall of 2019 we surveyed more than 4,000 vehicle owners from the U.S., France, Germany, and Japan. Here’s what we found.

Quality and convenience top the list

Forty-nine percent (49%) of vehicle owners expect high-quality service and base their choice of service provider and automaker on the quality of the services delivered. This includes not only the quality of the mechanical parts or workmanship provided but also the overall end-to-end customer experience.

A convenient service location is also an important consideration for 45% of our surveyed vehicle owners, as is the ease of making an appointment (41%). Telephone is currently the most popular channel across all age groups for scheduling both warranty and customer-paid service. But respondents said they would welcome the ability to schedule service via a mobile app or in-vehicle system.

The advanced aftermarket service features vehicle owners want

Vehicle manufacturers and dealers understand that owners rely on technology daily in other areas of their lives, and they expect the same smart, enabled speed and convenience in their aftermarket service experiences. Therefore, it’s not surprising that our survey group wished for a number of tech-based features and capabilities. Our eBook breaks them all out, but among them are:

  • Text / push notifications when serviced vehicle is ready (78%)
  • Text / push notifications when serviced vehicle needs additional repairs (77%)
  • Ability to track progress of vehicle service in a mobile app (74%)
  • Ability to book service appointments from in-vehicle system (74%)
  • Mobile app to arrange and manage service appointments (69%)
  • Recommendations of local service providers from in-vehicle system (65%)
  • Proactive reminder from OEM or dealer, or alert through in-vehicle system, that it is time to schedule service (65%)

Consumers demand speed, ease, flexibility, and connectivity

From my own industry experience, including my recent work focused around perfecting ownership journeys, these survey results reinforce our collective urgency to act. While automakers and dealers understand the need for modernizing the aftermarket services experience for vehicle owners, we’ve often allowed the functional complexity of our ecosystem to stymie industry-wide change. We’ve let the boundaries between manufacturers, dealers, and other service providers prevent the smooth delivery of service and information that vehicle owners expect.

As in every other consumer context, owners demand the ease and convenience of digitally enabled tools while having the flexibility of traditional channels, such as a phone call. And while organizational and governance challenges remain a significant consideration for perfecting vehicle ownership experiences, solutions that help orchestrate and remove friction and effort from these moments that matter – at scale – have finally changed the game for those of us working to deliver on these consumer expectations.

To differentiate your brand through aftermarket services, take these steps

First, automakers need to own the problem. Our survey found that vehicle owners don’t recognize the difference between manufacturers and dealers – they just want their car fixed correctly and quickly without any hassles, hidden fees, or problems. Automakers are in the best position to drive this approach – and if you aren’t already thinking this way, you should be.

Second, expect to provide the seamless experience your consumers want via any channel or device – phone, mobile app, text, self-service web, or whatever comes next. Based on our survey, owners want options when it comes to communications, and service providers will have to be accessible and responsive across all of those options for the foreseeable future.

Third, take the proactive step of developing a streamlined program that connects a new owner’s mobile phone to their vehicle and enrolls them in a digital ownership service after the sale.

Finally, add an agility layer to your existing enterprise digital architecture – one that is capable of spanning the industry ecosystem and owner experience boundaries, processes, and interactions, while supporting your ability to tackle constantly changing requirements. You don’t need to replace the old with the new, but you now can unlock it.

So what are you waiting for?!

Get more insights from the eBook

Download the eBook for more statistics on what consumers expect from aftermarket services and the technology that can help you deliver exceptional customer experiences every time.

Learn more:

  • Watch replays from Pega’s Customer Engagement Summit Detroit and get expert insight on the technology shift in automotive Aftermarket Services (AMS).
  • Discover how Pega for Manufacturing & High-Tech™ helps the world’s most recognizable organizations streamline operations and deliver outstanding customer experiences.
  • See how Pega’s consulting partners can help guide your next project to success.
  • Watch our LinkedIn Live discussion with Lauren Fix and Kristyn Lau on digital transformation and the customer-facing tech necessary to drive change at your organization.
  • Join us at PegaWorld iNspire to test-drive the newest technology and learn from global industry leaders.


Industry: Manufacturing Product Area: Customer Service Solution Area: Customer Service

About the Author

Michelle Garcia, PMP, is a director and industry principal for manufacturing, automotive and high-tech at Pega with more than 23 years of experience working with automotive enterprises to improve customer journeys, processes, governance, and technologies through digital transformation.

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