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The year 2020 is coming. Are you ready for a technology-enabled world of service, with new customer expectations?

In the car business? Put your seatbelt on.

And while you’re at it hang on tight to the steering wheel, because the road between today’s reality and the likely future is sure to be a wild and bumpy ride. The typical dealer-driven and controlled process of 2018, with few options and an established profit path, is already evolving into a customer-driven buyer’s journey.

 

That’s the type with multiple options, considerable margin pressure, and a heavy emphasis on right-time service levels. It’s not a temporary disruption: The depth and permanence of this change is led by mobile technology, and that has traditional retail operations staggering. In fact, according to Kerrigan Advisors’ year-end Blue Sky Report, it’s driving some generational dealer operators to rethink future plans.

Everybody Take a Deep Breath

At about this point I can hear you thinking: “Yeah, yeah. the more things change the more they stay the same.” It’s true that core fundamentals of retail ops are healthy and established. For example, people will always buy, lease, and service cars from dealerships. The majority will always test drive cars first, and will prefer a dealership service drive to the cluttered and dirty aftermarket option. The process is where change is happening.

And if you doubt that, consider how the popularity of technology-driven options enabled Uber, Lyft and their global peers to create a new transportation channel. Note how ride-sharing services and subscription-based vehicle programs – programs that are now spreading like wildfire to mainstream automakers – are opening the door for expansive and customized options.

Combined with the increasingly sophisticated science of Big Data and connected cars, the automotive landscape in 2020 looks like a data-driven, customer-first enterprise that relies on technology to help humans deliver right-time and comprehensive service.

The Future is Bright

It sure sounds marvelous. Except for one tiny exception: the need to service cars for a profit. You remember profit, right? That thing you had plenty of before interest rates went up, and sales slowed? The reason your service drive exists? If you’re selling new cars for pennies of profit, you’re doing it because it opens the door to more profitable areas of the business. And there’s no better place than the service drive. When times are uncertain, service departments have historically risen to the occasion.

This time might be different. Today, the service drive is also under pressure to Millennial influencers, a persistent technician shortage, and lengthening service intervals. These demands (and others) are forcing the adoption of technology solutions across service departments. The message is clear: get your technology right or suffer low CSI in an area that has always served as an important connector between sales and retention. The year 2020 is right around the corner, and the need for a simple, connected and efficient technology solution for the service department grows larger in the rearview mirror with every passing day.

 

Transforms BDCs Into Powerful Retention, Efficiency And Profit Drivers

Toronto and Detroit, March 7, 2018

Dealer-FX, the leading customer experience management provider for automotive OEMs and their retailers, announced the release of Customer Connect, an enhanced, innovative and powerful BDC communication tool for dealers. As dealers increasingly utilize business development centers (BDCs) to interface with customers, Customer Connect gives agents valuable new capabilities to improve the customer experience and drive cost efficiencies. It controls all inbound and outbound communications via text, phone, and email, aligning message delivery with customer preferences to provide a frictionless experience.

Powerful Customer Retention Tool

Customer Connect runs targeted campaigns designed to reach the right customers with the right message at the right time. As an optional add-on, you can also purchase the BDC Accelerator®, a sophisticated auto dialer that greatly improves agent efficiency. BDC Accelerator automatically dials each contact. If voicemail picks up, a single click leaves a professional pre-recorded voicemail while the agent calls the next contact. It can also run personalized text and email campaigns. Customer Connect generates targeted outbound campaign lists and call scripts for all of the following campaign types:

  • Recalls and software updates
  • Declined and deferred services
  • Lost souls and potentially lost customers
  • Missed appointment reminders and follow-ups
  • Overdue for service reminders
  • Special and seasonal offers

 

Efficiency, Profit and Customer Experience Driver

Customer Connect expands the capabilities of the BDC by linking directly to the Service Dashboard, giving agents access to real-time information that only service advisors previously had. It frees advisors to spend less time answering vehicle status questions and more time serving customers in the dealership. Since BDC agents are almost always available, customers don’t play phone tag with advisors or wait on hold for information, improving their experience. Customer Connect lets BDC agents engage with customers in multiple ways:

  • Provide vehicle status updates and promise times
  • Have text conversations with both customers and advisors
  • Provide information about outstanding recalls and software updates
  • Make and change service appointments
  • Answer questions about factory and dealer recommended maintenance

“We are extremely excited to offer our dealers a product with so many valuable capabilities,” said Gary Kalk, President and CEO of Dealer-FX. “Customer Connect takes the dealership BDC to a whole new level, using every communication channel and reason to connect with customers to drive retention, revenue, improved efficiency and a seamless customer experience. It also provides a simple and easy solution for dealers to communicate with their customers.”

Customer Connect is included with Dealer-FX’s ONE Platform at no additional cost. As with the entire set of ONE Platform solutions, Customer Connect uses certified, bi-directional integration with the DMS and leading third parties, and shares data across all of its solutions. It also includes comprehensive reporting and analytics at the customer, campaign and agent levels, helping dealers utilize their resources most effectively to grow revenue and profits.

About Dealer-FX

Dealer-FX is transforming how millions of consumers interact with automotive brands and their retailers. Our customer experience management platform uses advanced data analysis and mobile applications to deliver convenience, transparency and trust to consumers, and increased efficiency, profitability, retention and brand loyalty to OEMs and dealers. We are backed by the strength and resources of HGGC, a private equity firm in Palo Alto, CA.

Our core offering, ONE Platform, is comprised of seven components, which along with the Service Dashboard, manage the entire service experience from initial contact through drive-off and to next visit. It delivers the best dealer service experience. Period.

Dealer-FX is the exclusive or preferred service technology provider for FCA, Nissan, Infiniti, Toyota, Lexus, Audi, Mitsubishi and several other OEMs in the US and Canada, and has more than 2,000 dealership clients. Dealer-FX is based in Toronto, ON, and maintains an office in Rochester Hills, MI. For more information please visit dealer-fx.com, or connect on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.