CSI Snapshot: How Do Customers Prefer to Schedule Service Appointments?

Chris Sutton

Interestingly, there’s a perception that customers would rather drop by the dealership without making an appointment, particularly given today’s emphasis on customer service and convenience. Yet, our 2012 Customer Service Index (CSI) Study finds that, contrary to popular belief, a majority, or 73% of customers, actually prefer to call ahead for an appointment, while 10% prefer to schedule an appointment online. Just 17% of service customers indicate they prefer to drop by the dealership without an appointment.

Our customer feedback supports the focus on and importance of formalizing the visit and avoiding the “just bring your vehicle in” message. During the past 5 years, we’ve even seen a slight decline in the percentage of customers dropping by the dealership, from 26% to 23%, and we’ve seen a slight increase in the percentage of customers who prefer to schedule their service appointment online.

Will the trend continue? What will make the scheduling process easier?

Among the small percentage (10%) of customers who prefer to schedule online, less than half actually use this method to set up an appointment. However, dealers should continue to promote online scheduling by educating customers in how to use a true online scheduling tool and not fill out e-mail-based forms. Dealers should also not restrict appointment times.

Why aren’t more customers scheduling online, and what’s the long-term potential?

As expected, a higher percentage of Gen Y customers prefer to schedule online compared with older customers. However, less than half of Gen Y customers who prefer to schedule their appointments online actually do so.  Our assumption is that this drop-off occurs because customers are unwilling to use email-based scheduling forms and that usability improves when dealerships employ true online scheduling tools.


What trends have you noticed in your service department? Are more customers scheduling their service appointment online? Do you see any differences between the different age groups in terms of online scheduling? Chris Sutton, senior director, U.S. Automotive Division at J.D. Power and Associates


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