Research explores what QR codes and mobile apps consumers want for automotive aftermarket

Survey findings reveal some significant mobile marketing opportunities for the automotive service industry, particularly with their customers' high, overall rates of mobile app usage (44 percent), but with relatively few of them now using a dealer or...


More than twice as many service customers (44 percent) use mobile apps than scan QR codes (18 percent). And that app usage number jumps to 74 percent for the tech-obsessed 18-34 demographic. Furthermore, service customers using apps use them intensely, with 2 in 3 turning to them at least once daily. This is good news for service businesses because, compared to QR Codes, which are, by nature, scan and go, mobile apps enable them to forge daily, always-there customer connections.

Despite the fact that nearly half of all service customers are now app users (a figure that will grow explosively), only 10 percent of survey respondents reported that they currently have a dealer/service provider app.

And, these 1-in-10 service customers that now use a dealer/service center app reported on how they most interact with it. This data, shining some light on what features they find most useful, provides one window into what service app providers should most include in their offerings.

For service-app-using customers, the functions that they interact with the most (coupons, dealer incentives, service reminders, etc.) - and the least (general car model/maintenance/financing info, or connecting to provider's website) - again clearly illustrate that consumers demand real, tangible value, and actionable info and tools that make their lives easier.

The Features That Would Make Them the "Appiest"

The "wish list" of the app-less 90 percent of service customers provides an even more accurate window into the features consumers most desire in a service provider app. The top 5 are: 1) coupons, 2) online appointment scheduling, 3) service reminders, 4) recall alerts and 5) vehicle maintenance histories. It's interesting to note the very high percentage of respondents that report that they would embrace these key features if their dealer/service center offered them in an app. The data clearly indicates that far more customers would adopt service apps if they integrated the functionality people demand.

Many of the most-wanted features (i.e., service reminders, vehicle maintenance histories, etc.) require that the app be fully integrated into the business' DMS. And since DMS-app integration allows dealers/service centers to send the right messages/offers about the right vehicles at the right time, it makes implementing these features a major "win" for both customer and business.

"Wave one with any new technology is adoption, and wave two is where businesses get it right, aligning their offerings with what consumers actually demand," said Van Sach. "While far more service businesses have jumped into QR codes than mobile apps, the former is essentially just a 'door' sending people to short-lived, and hopefully engaging, information. But mobile apps, which are always in that customer's pocket or purse, uniquely forge long-term, hyper-close customer connections. They're the 'big house' a business can build their service relationships on, but only if they build that house right."

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