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Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
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Saphura Long

Saphura Long CEO/ President

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If I had a dime for everytime a dealer says I hate my CRM!

If I had a dime for every time I have heard a dealer or manager or dealership employee say “I hate this CRM”; I would be a billionaire by now!

For sixteen years we were one of the leading CRM providers to the automotive vertical and worked hard to make our clients happy with a state of the art CRM. 

 We spent a great deal of effort on research and upgrade to try and decipher what was the cause of discontent in the CRM world.  The revolving door exists today with all CRM.  It wasn’t until the creation of social networking that we finally came up with the primary reason dealers struggle with CRM.

 And that is although the “C” stands for “Customer” there is no real interaction or true dialogue with the customer through the CRM.  Communication is always a one directional monologue outward from dealer to customer.  Dealerships talk “at” their customers rather than with them.   Also, people within the dealership put “stuff” in the CRM, and I call it stuff, as data would indicate something measurable and of value and there is little of value there.  Then they try to use the “stuff” for communication and email is always the venue of delivery.  So, the stuff is inaccurate and includes much duplicates and the email as a mode of communication that requires further reference is almost obsolete, both result in failure.  The dealer, rightly expects results from this whale that he has installed and all he hears is that the “whale can’t swim” and he gets more and more frustrated and of course as always the employees blame the CRM and as we all like our employees and tend to listen to them the dealer cancels the contract and installs yet another CRM and the vicious cycle keeps going on and on.

Is this the fault of the CRM producing companies; no not at all, is it the fault of dealership employees no not them either.  What is the source of this lack of results and who is to blame?  The answer as stated above is deeply embedded in the whole idea of using CRM in the automotive world in its present form.  The automotive consumer actually, as a rule, likes and wants to be in contact with “their” dealer.  This is evidenced by the fact that many “OEM” run dealerships trying to be more “Dell” like where the dealer/stock holder decision maker is no longer present have not succeeded.   The “Ford Retail Network or FRN”; (Ford Motor Company Case Study written by Jason Austin, Denine Rood  and Jeanne Sands)

 launched in 2000  where Ford  bought the dealerships from the local dealers and tried to operate them as a whole is a great example of above.  Here the OEM bought the dealerships to try and test best business practices and reduce cost.  This was a testing ground for OEM operated dealerships.  The result was so poor that Ford ultimately sold those dealerships back to individual dealers.  Many dealer groups are cognoscente of this fact and make great efforts to personalize their interaction with customer.  

So, the consumer wants to and likes to be able to communicate with dealership employees and likes to feel that there is a place or a person where “the buck actually does stop”.  However, as dealerships are run today to “communicate” with dealership employees by the customer is extremely difficult, especially in an emergency case.  Imagine a customer who has had their car just serviced and is driving down the street and has an issue with the same car.  What is his recourse?  Call the dealership and get the same service advisor?  We all know how that will turn out!  The customer has nowhere to go to  be able to seamlessly and easily communicate with the dealership people.  He gets angry and posts not so nice reviews.  All along the dealer thinks he is managing his customer remember he just bought a CRM, why is this customer angry? 

So, another problem with CRM is that it has really nothing to do with customer other than just being a repository of data, or better put “stuff”.

It is also highly functional and requires an aggressive knowledge of software usage, not usually available in a dealership employee which is expected to use this tool.  The management also has little time and know how to manage this thing so the “M” also fails and the outcome of no “C” and no “M” is no “R”.  Meaning lack of customer engagement and lack of subsequent management leads to no relationship with the very valuable customer and hence no value gained from using this cumbersome device.

Proving return on investment on CRM is right up there analogous to proving exactly what is causing the global warming.  Is it all CO2 caused by humans or the earth is going through a cycle of its own? 

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