An earlier version of this article was originally published by Digital Dealer Magazine and can be viewed here.
Successful dealerships know that their service department is imperative for creating customer loyalty and bringing in repeat customers and buyers. We’ve already touched upon the fact that service departments have been the highest growing in inbound prospect calls and appointments over the past few years—but today I want to give you some tips on ensuring that your service department is being as successful as it can be. It is vital to make sure that you are putting in the required effort to make the customer experience in your service department top-notch.
One way that dealerships find success in increasing their service department profit and efficiency is by incorporating a Business Development Center, or BDC. A BDC consists of a manager and customer service representatives responsible for being customers’ initial point of contact, and handling the first-touch of the client relationship and appointment setting duties, inbound and outbound.
A BDC is not one rep who becomes responsible for all of these duties. A BDC is not a receptionist who will answer and forward along calls to other departments or voicemails. A BDC doesn’t have the word “center” in its name for nothing. You need more than employee to actually have a real BDC.
It may seem extra responsibility and money for your dealership to add a Service BDC, but when 66% of service advisors fail to ask the customer for an appointment, what would being able to successfully convert those callers into appointments mean for your business? Service departments are typically busy, and those that have the skills to service a car don’t always necessarily have the customer service skill set to get customers into your dealership.
There is a lot more to inbound call handling than simply answering the phone and passing it along to the correct department, or asking the necessary information from the caller. We’ve touched upon the importance of good call handling many times already but it bears repeating. Just because someone is calling into your dealership, it does not mean that they have any special loyalty to you yet—and their first impression will be made as soon as that phone starts ringing.
So what happens if someone answers with a rushed, distracted tone, is unable to answer the caller’s questions, or, even worse—no one answers the phone in time and the caller is either endlessly looped around in a never-ending ring cycle or sent to voicemail?
I will tell you what will happen.
That caller probably isn’t going to put in the time and effort to try to endlessly call your dealership back. It has been found that 76% of people clearly develop a perception of a company’s level of customer service based on the initial phone call, and the amount of consumers who still leave voicemails for a company have been dropping 8-10% per year since 2008. An unknowledgeable or busy person answering the phone isn’t going to leave a good first impression for your service department, and calls to voicemail might as well be written off as lost leads as well.
This is where a Service BDC comes in to play.
You want your service department to be busy – that is a good thing. But when they are too busy to put the time and skills necessary into all of the inbound calls coming in (and the busier your service department gets, hopefully the more inbound calls you are receiving), you aren’t going to further your dealership’s success. And that is the point, right? You don’t want to stay complacent and not make any improvements year over year; you want to grow the business and increase your profits.
For the first quarter of 2017, CallSource found that 30% of inbound prospect calls are for the service department—compared to 13% in sales and 11% in parts. So, even if you may already have a Sales BDC incorporated into your dealership, there is also a clear need to include a Service BDC as well.
Think of all that your Service BDC employees would be responsible for.
* Convince caller to set an appointment with your dealership through value statements
* Customer follow-up
And the list goes on! All of these responsibilities will surely not be followed up on if you only have one person with all of these duties piled on, plus others that may take priority such as dealing with day-to-day, in person tasks. A BDC has the time to dedicate their best efforts to make the caller experience the best it can be, so that the customer will have a great impression of your business from the first ring all the way through to their actual appointment, and long after.