There are benefits in using information technology to enhance the overall warranty process, particularly for dealer reimbursement of claims.
So says Richard Malaise, the National Automobile Dealers Assn.'s chief information officer.
Auto makers need to reimburse warranty work expeditiously because dealerships are “very much cash-flow businesses,” says Malaise, speaking at a warranty conference sponsored by the Automotive Industry Action Group.
He adds: “It would speed things up if the process were more automated. Dealers would like to automate the warranty process as much as possible. The issue is not so much reimbursement, but what's required for reimbursement.”
All auto makers essentially require the same kind of information on dealership warranty work reimbursement submissions, he says. However the way the claims are processed vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.
Meanwhile, he says it would help if dealership service advisors and technicians used hand-held electronic devices that scan vehicle identification numbers of vehicles brought to dealerships for warranty work.
“The scans could provide fast information to dealers on auto makers' warranty service events, safety campaigns and vehicle histories,” Malaise says. “Sometimes, customers know of those things before dealers.”
That can lead to a dealership unwittingly under-stocking parts needed for auto makers' recall or warranty programs.
“The more we automate and make information timely, the better off we will be,” says Malaise.
He says a dealership's goal is to perform repairs right the first time and send customers on their way. To do that requires technology to capture all the relevant information.
New wireless technology, using diagnostic sensors in a customer's vehicle, allows a dealership to detect mechanical problems while the vehicle is on the road, and notify the customer to bring the car in for service.
“It's a way to enhance the customer relationship,” says Malaise.
Customer relationship management (CRM) firms selling such wireless diagnostic equipment say it is a way to maintain continuous, lasting and profitable customer connections.