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Are Your Phones Losing You Revenue?

by Bill Wittenmyer, Partner with ELEAD1ONE, a division of Data Software Services, L.L.C.

When you call a business to seek assistance or information, what irritates you the most: the seemingly impossible chore of navigating phone trees to get to a live person; the options that are irrelevant to you; or the fact that, when you do get somebody, they’re the wrong person and have to transfer you?

Probably all of them! Well, the same is true for your customers. What do they experience when calling into your dealership? Do you even know?

Sadly, many dealers place far too much faith in their phone processes, people and technology. Just because your dealership has call monitoring doesn’t mean your customers are well cared for. In fact, those calls may not even be listened to — except, perhaps, at the end of the month when a manager is scrambling for those few extra units to close the month.

Like any technology, just because you pay for it doesn’t mean it’s getting used. The fact is, if you’re not using it, you’d be better off with no automated phone system and a simple receptionist. Why? Because then your customers could at least talk to a live person.

What do you think customers do when they get irritated because they can’t talk to someone at your dealership? They hang up and call your competitor! Here’s a true story for you. Not too long ago I called into a BMW dealership in an attempt to speak to the General Manager. After countless automated transfers and a phone tree which asked me to press “1” for service etc., it took me 1 minute and 32 seconds to finally speak to a live person. And, perhaps even worse, guess what WAS NOT an option? SALES! Seriously. You would think that sales would have made the cut when configuring that phone system. Even accounting was an option!

Make it a point to inspect what you expect. I’m guessing that every dealer out there expects their phones to be answered. They also probably expect that a customer can easily navigate to the desired department and be appropriately handled once they reach a live person.

Well, the point is, you won’t know how horrible (or wonderful) your customer experience is via your phone system until you start doing one thing regularly:

Mystery shop your own store.

Place yourself in your customer’s shoes and regularly call into the dealership attempting to get different departments – and see what happens. To do this effectively, you (or a manager) should be away from the store and call in with a phone other than your cell, in order to stay truly anonymous. Employees will naturally try to answer quickly if they see that it’s you calling.

Pay attention to how many times you’re transferred; how many options you are forced to choose to get to whomever you wish to reach; and how long it takes you to speak to a live person. If it takes any longer than 30 seconds, there’s something wrong. If you get irritated, so do your customers. And that means you’re probably losing opportunities in sales and service. You can’t afford to miss any revenue or give it up to your competition.

Make sure any technology you adopt enhances the customer experience while also making your dealership more efficient. Efficiency gets thrown out the window if you’re losing customers.

There are many ways you can use technology or third party BDCs to provide your customers with a better experience. But don’t use any technology at the expense of your customer experience.

Start mystery shopping your dealership and ensure you and your management team regularly listen to calls to monitor what’s happening when customers call in. Identifying any points of customer friction, sooner rather than later, will decrease missed opportunities and, because of that, you can capture more business and revenue.


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