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Part 4 of Auto Recall Blog: Encouraging Owners to Make Repairs

Related to the challenge of effectively communicating with vehicle owners, another obstacle for recall completion lies with convincing owners to complete the needed repairs. Why? Our panel of experts cited a few reasons:

  • Lack of trust: Owners may not believe a repair is really necessary if they don’t know or trust the source of communication. This is another reason that collaboration among various industry partners – Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), dealers, mechanics, insurers, government agencies like NHTSA – is so important. NHTSA’s SaferCar app and online VIN searches can help consumers feel more confident that a recall is legitimate. 

Neil Steinkamp: “Hearing from a trusted mechanic that a repair is needed will go further than getting a letter from the OEM.”

Additionally, tailoring the message itself to fit the circumstance of the owner can help the communication feel more authentic. Again, this comes down to data. 

An industry expert said: “Understanding the household, what are motivators and what’s important to the owner can help you reach them at the right time with the right message. For example, if the owner’s child is operating the vehicle, the parent may feel more urgency to have it fixed out of concern for safety.”

“This kind of segmentation comes from data and can help you know your owners and tailor your messages accordingly,” according to Dr. Stephen Ridella of NHTSA. 

  • Lack of urgency: Owners may not feel a repair is urgent and ignore it. Another side of the trust concern noted above, this challenge goes back to owners believing in the source of the message and feeling engaged in the communication. Proactive, personalized outreach using various channels – letter, phone call, vehicle tag – can help emphasize the importance of the repair in the owner’s eyes. And the more personalized the contact can be, the better. Sending the same form letter or email multiple times feels impersonal and is easily ignored. 

Another industry expert also noted the issue of recall notices often being sent prior to the necessary parts or processes being available for the repair to take place. If an owner receives and responds to a recall notice only to learn that a replacement part is unavailable or the dealer doesn’t have the information needed to complete the repair, he/she may lose faith that it’s really necessary. He also noted that owners may put off a repair out of worry that there will be hidden costs, the servicer will find other needed work needed on the vehicle, etc.

  • Lack of convenience: Finally, owners may put off or ignore a recall repair out of inconvenience. This is the biggest obstacle to recall completion, according to Neil Steinkamp. 

The industry is working to resolve this challenge by offering creative solutions to consumers in terms of how they can complete needed repairs. Mobile repair services, extended service hours at dealerships or repair providers, and free loaner vehicles can make a repair easier for an owner. Some dealers are offering a repair concierge service, in which the vehicle needing repair is picked up from the owner, repaired and delivered back. Mobile repair and concierge services are becoming more and more standard, especially through the Covid-19 pandemic when consumers are less likely to visit a dealer or repair shop themselves.

To learn more of Covid-19’s impact, tune in next week or download the full white paper here.

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