It is an age old diametrically opposed argument. On one side, we have technology. On the other side, we have personnel.
In recent years there has been a migration to technology because we have come to expect that our Dealerships will be modern, fully equipped Service Centers that have the best tools and equipment because that's the image that has been built through extended advertising.
It's also why people have come to believe that going to the Dealer is always more expensive.
What has happened (IMHO) is that technology has become a crutch to be used instead of a professional Sales process and effective person to person communication skills. And becomes the scapegoat when the technology does not produce the Sale.
If I had to choose between the two, I'll choose the professional Sales Process and Communication Skills because our business is still a person to person elbow rubbing "Hey, how are you doing?" smile on your face take care of the Customer business.
If you have a Service Department that is staffed with people and not extraterrestrial aliens or vampires, then they can be trained to present Multipoint Inspections using a Sales Process that produces consistent results.
In fact, over the past 11 years, we have been dong this very same thing in Service Departments all across the country and have helped them produce dramatic and spectacular results...using the same technology (Electronic MPI, Electronic Menus, Electronic write up, On line Appointment Scheduling, CRM Software, you name it...) that was already in place and did not generate the expected results because they are simply tools when it comes right down to it.
The perfect example of the difference between training and technology exists in our own collective history. Remember OBDII? What happened when "Software Download" and "Electronic Diagnostics" took over our industry? In the beginning, there was a period of time when the plug in connector was viewed as a precursor to volcanoes and the return of the dinosaurs. The end of the world!
We had to train all of our Technicians to use the new technology. When we completed that re-training, our success in diagnosing the vehicle and repairing it the first time increased dramatically. (Which coincidentally has lead to a considerable decrease in warranty repair work.)
But there was still the Customer.
Why didn't all of this new technology which made concerns easier to diagnose, lead to a decrease in defects per sold unit and increase the reliability (to name a few of the benefits), lead to an automatic increase in CSI, increased retention and more maintenance visits at the Dealership?
Because you can't train a computer to smile, ask how you are doing, make a friend, build a relationship, remember their preferences, make recommendations based on priorities, remember that they are always your Customer and not a problem to be dealt with and lastly, you can't teach a computer or build a software application that has Pride and Professionalism.
That is why you still need a smiling, professional Service Advisor.
Hey, you can keep paying those monthly fees for "stuff that don't work" or give someone a call. It's up to you.