One of the biggest disruptions to our everyday routines comes when our cars have to spend time in the shop. Even if it’s not a surprise repair, picking up and dropping off your car can be impossible to schedule. Ford is testing out a new automated kiosk that lets you drop off and pick up your car anytime, even when the dealership is closed.
Most dealerships already have some system for dropping off your keys outside of business hours. This highly technical process usually involved writing your name and a few bits of information about your car on an envelope, tossing in your keys, and sliding the envelope into a slot.
Ford partnered with Panasonic System Communications Co. of North America to automate the process and add the ability to not just drop off, but pick up your car and pay for services outside business hours. It’s all thanks to a unique outdoor kiosk.
Open 24/7, the Ford kiosk is currently testing at the Lafontaine Ford dealership in Birch Run, Michigan. It will be at the dealership for a 90-day run to see if customers like it or would rather do things the old fashioned way.
It’s easy to use with a setup similar to an ATM. Customers start the process by either entering their name and address or scanning their driver’s license QR code. They are then prompted to enter their email, phone number, vehicle information, and a PIN code so they can pick up their car when it’s ready.
The process works whether you’re dropping your car off for basic maintenance or a complicated repair. An icon-based menu includes items like oil changes, inspections, and recalls, but there’s also a comments section so customers can describe what kind of service they need for their car.
Pickup is simple, too. Customers scan a QR code that’s emailed to them during the drop-off process and enter their PIN to access their car’s information. They can pay right at the kiosk with a debit or credit card, retrieve their key, and be on their way.
The kiosk is designed to improve the customer experience, but it also serves as a way for dealerships to refine their service operations. Through analytics provided by the kiosks, dealerships will know exactly when customers choose to pick up their cars and can better serve their needs.
Though it’s only a 90-day trial for now, positive customer feedback so far means the chances are good they’ll extend that trial period and install kiosks at more locations.