Recently I tried scheduling a service appointment at a local dealership. I called three times but never got through to anyone—I was placed on hold, transferred around and sent into voicemail. I don't like to leave voicemails because who knows if the person I'm calling with get the message or even return my call. After three attempts, I gave up and called another dealership.
Dealers measure a lot of metrics but many don't measure the percentage of incoming calls that are dropped or don't connect with anyone who can actually help the person calling.
When a customer calls your service department, they want answers to their questions now. They don't want to wait and see if an advisor will eventually get back to them. The good news for dealers is that when a customer does connect with someone on the phone, there's a 72 percent appointment ratio.
The bad news is that a lot of customers' calls aren't getting through. In a recent CallRevu analysis of 4.2 million phone calls into dealership service departments, 68 percent or nearly 2.8 million calls connected with an agent. That means 32 percent of calls, or nearly one-third of customers calling into your service department, aren't connecting with anyone! For every 100 lost calls, that's 72 appointments you don't have.
I don't know about you, but to me losing one out of every three leads is an unacceptable business practice.
I understand service personnel are busy. Your advisor's primary job is to take care of the customers and vehicles that are already in your service department— you really don't want them playing phone tag with customers. Phone tag wastes a lot of time and is very frustrating for the customer.
The key to fixing your service department phone problems is to figure out how you can reduce the volume of incoming and outgoing calls that your service advisors have to make.
Many dealerships have explored the option of setting up a service-only BDC to answer incoming calls. BDC agents are trained, monitored and use scripts for consistent messaging.
One of the primary advantages of having a BDC is that agents are not rushing through conversations. Do your service advisors take the time to ask every customer for updated contact information? BDC agents can deliver a 90 percent email capture rate for customers. For some dealers, this has doubled the response rate of their service email campaigns.
At first, your service advisors may resist the idea of having someone else schedule their appointments. They like to be in control of their own schedules. But what's best for them may not be what's best for your dealership. If an advisor wants to leave at 5:00 pm, do you think he's going to schedule an appointment for 4:30 pm?
BDC agents set appointments based on customer preferences, not those of the advisor. As a result, dealers typically see a 26 percent increase in ROs and an increase in shop capacity, along with a more consistent workflow.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of having a BDC is the high levels of customer satisfaction. With a 14-second average call answering time, customers are immediately connected with someone who can quote pricing for basic services and schedule appointments.
The downside to setting up an internal BDC is that it can be cost prohibitive. Running a BDC requires a skilled and experienced BDC manager, and staff turnover can be an issue.
Another option is to outsource your service department's calls to a virtual BDC. Virtual agents are trained to use your dealership name when answering the phone, and technology allows them to quote your dealership's pricing and connect customers with your personnel. Outsourcing is cost-effective for most dealers because of economy of scale. A virtual BDC center can efficiently handle calls for many dealerships, as opposed to just one group.
At the upcoming Driving Sales Executive Summit I'll be presenting "Hold the Phone: Why Poor Call Handling Skills are Costing You Money." In my breakout session I'll go more in-depth on virtual BDCs, and will also cover:
My session is scheduled for Sunday, October 22nd at 4:00 p.m. See you in Vegas!