Life looks a lot different, even as the world starts to return to “normal.” Customers and employees have a new expectation for connecting with dealerships and their employers. However, this new virtual environment offers opportunities for dealerships. During a recent webinar, John Bolling, CDK Global Heavy Equipment senior director of sales, shared 4 specific enhancements you can make to your dealership’s operations to virtually connect with your customers and employees safely and effectively.
Introducing Customer 2.0
The pandemic has accelerated changes to the way we shop and communicate, professionally and personally, but customer expectations started shifting years ago. According to Bolling, “80% of your customers walked through your front door, and then all of a sudden in the last 6 or 7 years, we started seeing that maybe 20% of your customers are walking through your front door, and 80% are trying to do business with you via another means.” Whether that’s over phone, on your website or even via text messages.
In the last year, businesses have had to adjust — hosting video meetings, traveling less and reducing personal interactions with customers. Despite these changes, customer engagements have increased. That’s because the pandemic has not only affected the way we do business, but it’s changed our personal lives too. Customers are using more online services, ordering delivery and having their groceries shipped to their house, and customer expectations aren’t any different for their dealerships, he says.
“These new types of customers, we’ll call customer 2.0, are connecting in different ways,” says Bolling, “They’re willing to engage with your dealership and brand even more than customer 1.0, but only if you can adjust to their preferences. If not, you may be sending them directly to another dealership.”
Making it easier to connect with your dealership remotely is key to keeping customer 2.0 engaged with your business. A lot of the change that’s happening now is going to continue to happen and evolve.
There are four enhancements you can make to your dealership to connect with customer 2.0, including adjustments to your phone system, enabling texting and increasing mobile and information sharing services.
Turn Landlines into Text Lines
Communication has its generational differences, but more so than ever before, customers across generations are texting. In fact, texting provides a 93% faster follow-up than calling, Bolling says. That means if your landline isn’t texting enabled, you could be missing out on sales. A text-enabled phone system increases efficiency and offers the opportunity to handle more information and connect with more customers.
“There’s a drastic increase in closing ratio when you’re able to reconnect with a customer after they have called outside of business hours…” – John Bolling
Also, a text-enabled system can deliver key data and customer information directly to your dealership management system. Keeping a record of these conversations with your customers will allow you to better serve them in the future. This process ensures you have the most accurate and up-to-date information about conversations with your customers, their orders and their future needs.
As your customer-base and dealership grows, you’ll be reaching more and more customers and it’s essential to keep information and data well organized and easily accessible.
Texting is also an effective tool for keeping customers informed. As text notifications become standard in other industries, customer 2.0 is starting to expect this from dealerships too. Text communications can deliver order confirmations, delivery updates, work order updates and more. This builds efficiency and customer loyalty. With these automated updates customers can expect timely service and communication from you and plan their day easier, which will keep them coming back.
Your phone system company should be able to provide texting for your landline. Check with your phone company to find out if you can convert your landline system to a mobile phone system.
Implement a Mobile Phone System
Customer 2.0 is mobile. They’re often more likely to contact your dealership before coming to the physical location, whether via phone or online. Customers have the increasing expectation to be able to reach your dealership from anywhere, at any time of day. Employees are also becoming increasingly mobile, working from home or on the road. For all these reasons, a mobile phone system is a necessity.
A mobile phone system expands your phone number from your landline phone, located in the dealership, to any cellular phone owned or operated by the dealership. The system removes the restrictions that come with a landline phone and allows you and your team members to answer the phone from anywhere as the dealership, Bolling says.
Converting to a mobile phone system keeps your brand experience consistent for all your customers. Before, your sales representatives may have been calling from the road on their personal cell phones, while your parts counter representatives are calling from the store, he adds.
Without a mobile phone system, calls will look like they’re coming from different businesses or people, creating confusion with your customers. With a mobile phone system, all these calls will come from the same business.
For more information on how your dealership can better connect with your customers, watch the webinar Engaging with Customer 2.0 on Farm-Equipment.com/0621.
When branding your mobile phone system, make sure your business name appears as the caller ID. “We want to make sure that when you call a customer, it shows your business name to that customer so they will pick up and know that your call will help them and create that customer experience,” says Bolling.
If you avoid showing up as a robocall or a “Scam Likely” number, you’ll continue to build trust with your customers, and they are more likely to answer when you call back. Work with your phone provider to ensure you’re appearing as a branded business.
You can streamline your operations by enabling business to be done anywhere virtually. Your dealership team will be able to complete tasks more efficiently when they’re remote, managing departments and business transactions over the phone. You’ll also find your employees are more available if they have the option to collaborate virtually. Flexibility is appealing to team members. With the ability to work remotely, tenured employees may be willing to stick around, Bolling says.
You can also improve your customer experience by ensuring you never miss a call during business hours. If your team happens to be out of the dealership or on the road, a mobile phone system will give you the capability to answer those calls and easily connect with customers remotely. However, missed calls happen, but recovering those lost calls can be a significant business opportunity.
Recover Lost Calls & Leverage Call Data
On average, Bolling says dealerships miss 19% of calls. Those calls represent lost sales and customers. It’s essential to have a way to track calls remotely so you can uncover missed opportunities and use calling data to your advantage.
Some of the most important missed calls to track and recover are the ones that come in outside of business hours. Set up a recording for customers who call after business hours and then track those calls. The parts manager can then call each customer back in the morning, creating a connection and a potential sale, Bolling explains. “There’s a drastic increase in closing ratio when you’re able to reconnect with a customer after they have called outside of business hours,” he says.
Customer 2.0 might not expect you to answer in the middle of the night during an equipment emergency. But it does impress the customer when they get a call back first thing in the morning. Once the customer is impressed, it’s a lot easier to win their business and keep them satisfied, he says.
Call analytics and data offer a significant opportunity for your dealership. The data you track can drive decisions for the dealership. For example, Bolling notes you could discover from call data that there may be a bottleneck of missed calls during lunch. Staggering working hours could help improve that issue.
Set a baseline for missed calls. Then you can compare missed calls each day to that baseline and quickly learn if there are any issues day-to-day. If you have 35 missed calls one day, compared to an average baseline of 10, what’s the issue? Was an employee out? Was it busier in store? Find out why your team is missing more calls and adjust your processes for a better customer experience.
You can also leverage calling data to help develop employees. If you find from calling data that one employee is taking more calls than others, perhaps have that employee take a step back and sell from the computer while other team members handle more calls. This allows other employees to grow their phone selling skills while diversifying your workforce and keeping more individuals trained and skilled on the phone system.
Data from these lost calls can help you meet your customers’ expectations. There will be several issues that you can immediately solve based on these data. Often, dealerships discover from call data that customer 2.0 needs more ways to find information and connect with your dealership virtually, Bolling says. You can increase access to information and connect with your customers more often with an e-commerce strategy and enhanced online presence.
Implement an e-Commerce Strategy for Your Dealership
Having an e-commerce strategy is no longer optional, Bolling says. In fact, during the past year, thousands of businesses have had to pivot existing strategies and put together an online presence to reach customers during the pandemic.
Yet, this isn’t just a temporary change. The pandemic only expedited customer behavior changes and expectations that were already on the horizon.
Ecommerce and online customer connectivity aren’t going away. Customer 2.0 is here to stay, and they expect to be able to check the status of their service appointments, pay invoices and buy parts online.
Bolling says there’s some good news though. A lot of the hard work has already been completed.
Leverage existing e-commerce platforms for your dealership by taking some time to review methods and ideas from other industries and businesses. There is also a plethora of online tools available to build simple, yet effective, e-commerce stores and platforms. Although, make sure anything you implement is well-branded and recognizable as your dealership, Bolling says.
Customers should be able to get the information they want from your website without having to call. Give your customers the means to help themselves online. “The key to the future is not just buying [online], but customers servicing themselves,” says Bolling, “If customers want something, they want it when they want it, and that’s the way we all are. So, they want to do things themselves and you need to respect that and understand that’s the world in which we’re going to live in going forward.”
By providing access to a variety of information about their previous purchases online, customers will spend less time searching for this information and more time engaged with your dealership. This includes their orders, tax statements and past invoices. Connecting your website to your dealer management system can ensure that you always have the most up-to-date information available to your customers.
Your website should also have an online store. Customer 2.0 should be able to shop, buy parts and request services online. If you don’t have the capability to ship parts or equipment, you can easily set up a curbside pick-up service at your dealership.
Track the online orders and deliver them to your customers’ vehicles when they arrive at the dealership. This flexibility will attract the customers that are less willing to shop in store. You might also catch the eye of potential customers driving past the dealership.
Whether PayPal, ACH (automated clearing house — a method for processing transactions) or credit cards, it’s essential that your website accepts online payments. In a world of take-out food and online grocery shopping, customers increasingly expect the option to pay online.
Lastly, put in the extra work to make your online store recognizable. Branding will put your dealership ahead of your competitors and set it apart online when customers are searching for equipment, Bolling says.