Volvo Car USA adds improved, service-oriented features to its Volvo on Call smartphone app, to make it easier and faster for customers to book service appointments, summon roadside assistance or arrange pickup and delivery.
“Time is the most important thing to these customers,” Scott Doering, Volvo Car USA’s vice president-customer service, says in a phone interview. “These latest integrations make it much easier for the consumer.”
Within the Volvo on Call menu of services, Digital Service Booking and Roadside Assistance get improved features, which are now being introduced in the U.S. market.
In the near future, Volvo also adds new services to pickup and delivery. Volvo launched so-called Volvo Valet for service appointments in March.
By the end of this year, in addition to service appointments, customers will be able to use Volvo Valet to arrange overnight test drives, for lease or purchase deliveries, or for lease-end returns, Doering says.
From the brand’s point of view, the big idea behind all of the service improvements is to increase dealership service profits, service retention and, ultimately, repurchase loyalty, Doering says.
In particular, he says pickup and delivery already is starting to pay off. “We’ve done over 17,000 pickups and deliveries,” he says. “We’re starting to get traction.”
Pickup-and-delivery customers on average spend 35% more, or around $200 per repair order, vs. non-delivery customers, Doering says. Customers are more likely to approve additional work because of the convenience, he says, and because customers see the process as transparent.
The need for social distancing because of COVID-19 also increased customer demand for pickup and delivery and prompted Volvo Car USA to speed up the initial rollout of Volvo Valet in March. “We fast-tracked the broader launch of our program,” Doering says.
Volvo Car USA pays dealerships a per-customer fee to help offset the additional cost of pickup and delivery, Doering says. Ultimately, the company expects to move to a customer "convenience fee" model for pickup and delivery.
Memphis, TN, dealer Ernie Norcross says dealers experienced a big increase in customer demand for pickup and delivery because of COVID-19, especially in hard-hit regions like the New York City metro area.
“The pandemic really changed that for us,” he says in a phone interview. He says he’s doing more pickup and delivery since the pandemic, but not as much as the Northeast. Norcross is the owner and general manager of Volvo Cars Memphis.
Reservations and Calling for Help
Digital Service Booking and Roadside Assistance also get improved features. Volvo’s Doering (pictured, left) says Digital Service Booking allows customers to book service appointments 24 hours a day, with fewer steps, more transparency and better integration with dealership service-management systems compared with earlier versions.
Volvo Car is partnered with Cox Automotive’s Xtime to provide the back end of the appointment-scheduling system. Added convenience includes up-to-date, dealer-based pricing for the most common service actions, so customers know in advance what to expect, Doering says.
Customers are making greater use of online reservations, says Norcross, the dealer. “Customers like the flexibility and the ease of doing it,” he says.
Most customers still call the dealership for service, but Doering says he is encouraged to see about 40% of Volvo customers in the U.S. scheduling service with their smartphones.
The improved Roadside Assistance app uses Urgent.ly, which provides access to a nationwide network of tow trucks and service providers.
“We know where you are, and we know what vehicle you have,” as soon as the customer calls, because the app is connected with Volvo on Call and GPS technology, Doering says.
In turn, the customer can see information about the tow truck driver, and where the tow truck is on a map. “It takes a step out of the process,” he says. “Before, you would have to call our call center” to start the process of getting a tow truck.
Volvo on Call has been around for six years, starting with what Volvo called its 2015.5 model year – the first products based on Volvo’s “SPA” platform, short for Scalable Product Architecture.
SPA includes a redesigned safety structure made with more high-strength alloys, plus a new electrical architecture designed to accommodate high-tech updates.
Since then, Volvo Car USA has retailed more than 270,000 vehicles with Volvo on Call, Doering says. The service is complimentary for the first four years of ownership.
Every U.S. dealership is participating in the program, and the automaker has logged 5,500 connected-vehicle bookings so far.
-- with Tom Murphy