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Leverage Your CMS And CRM To Understand A Service Customer’s Expectations Better

Regularly querying customers, coupled with your existing systems, are a powerful combination. BY MICHAEL ROPPO

shutterstock_180834326Understanding your customer’s needs, expectations and preferences is at the center of every successful dealership organization’s sales and service businesses. This is true regardless of whether a company sells its products and services directly to individuals or to other businesses.

This core knowledge can be used to influence a potential or existing customer that buying from your dealership is in his or her best interests.

I cannot understate how important it is for a service department to pursue insights into its customers’ preferences. These insights can be garnered from your dealership’s DMS and CRM systems, working together to help you win service business from your competition. However, you first need to establish what you want to know about your customers’ preferences and how you will use it to steer them into buying from your dealership more frequently and effectively.

Ongoing Info About Customers, Prospects

The more you know about your customers, the more effective your service sales and marketing efforts will be. It’s well worth making the effort to find out:

  • Who they are?
  • What they are planning on buying?
  • Why are they buying it?
  • How soon are they planning to make the purchase?
  • Who will they buy it from?
  • What do customers want to buy from you?
  • Why do customers need your dealership and your services?
  • What are the differences between your services and that of your competition?
  • What do you specifically know about your customers?
  • Whom are they buying from now and why?

If you’re selling services to other businesses with a fleet of vehicles that get bought, sold and serviced frequently, you’ll need to know which individuals are responsible for making the buying decisions and take steps to ensure they can buy from your dealership. Targeting decision-makers requires a consistent approach to marketing your products and services in a value-added way. Make sure there are plenty of incentives for customers and prospects to do business with you and not your competition.

You can learn a great deal about your customers by simply talking to them on a regular basis. Asking them why they’re buying or not buying, what they may want to buy in the future and what other needs they have can give a valuable picture of what’s important to them.

Strong car and service sales are driven by emphasizing the benefits and value that your products or services bring to your customers. If you know the challenges that face them, it’s much easier to offer them solutions.

Know Their Current Service Providers

Chances are your potential customers already are buying something similar to your dealership’s products and service from another dealership. Before you can sell to a potential customer, you need to know:

  • Who is that prospect’s current dealership and service provider?
  • Is that prospect happy with the current dealership or service provider?
  • What additional, valued benefits could your dealership offer that person?

The easiest way to identify a potential customer’s current dealer and service provider is by simply asking him or her. Generally, people are very happy to offer this information and to reveal whether they’re happy with their present dealer or auto service organization.

shutterstock_81751213Leveraging DMS, CRM Together

Today, when you look at automotive DMS systems like Automate’s and CRM-associated software, we realize that the scope of features and functionality is significant. DMS and CRM software used together can provide dealers with an arsenal of tools and powerful customer information to drive business forward in any economy. Proper utilization is of these systems is becoming the core of operational performance for all dealer profit centers.

These are the kinds of resources that allow smart service managers and advisors, sales managers and salespeople, parts counter people, and BDC and BDR staff (who usually are the ones held accountable for gathering, confirming and constantly updating pertinent customer information) to ask the right questions and entering the answers into the dealer’s chosen DMS screens for every customer.

Efforts made in the area of building and maintaining information influence strong relationships in our industry. With proper time, targeted communications to keep customers coming back over and over again are a must to be successful in our industry. Some DMS providers like Automate partner with organizations that allow open access to information that can point to:

  • Core CRM program marketing initiatives for dealers
  • Best-in-class practices that are tailored to your customer’s specific needs
  • Multi-channel approaches for a dealership to communicate with its customers in a regimented fashion, from the time they take ownership of a new vehicle until they purchase their next one
  • E-mail and direct mail targeted messages for a customer’s birthday, anniversary, next recommended service, etc.
  • Targeted information based on a customer’s buying preferences and response analytics

How This Information Can Be Used

Just a few examples are:  

  • Make the first service appointment immediately after the vehicle sale, say for 1,000 miles out
  • Invite customers to a monthly service educational seminar or a welcome introduction for new and used car customer?
  • Provide monthly service clinic invitations to new and current service customers
  • Distribute ongoing customer service specials that influence value perceptions and customer retention

Efforts like these are a requirement if you want to drive all of the dealership’s sales and service marketing efforts from a streamlined database in order to be more profitable. Storing your customer data, service history and inventory in one system rather than several lets you log onto one database to open service campaigns, influence more appointments, market special service programs, manage service customer records and parts inventories, run e-mail campaigns, properly desk a deal and conduct trade appraisals.

Utilizing an extensive array of CRM data (sales history, sales modeling and customer history information) available from your DMS can help determine when to communicate service and sales messages to customers in a targeted manner.

Saner Investment In Technology

Smart dealers, leaders and managers who have been in the business for quite some time all have witnessed dealers investing in a myriad of technologies to better manage customers, marketing websites and inventory.

As many vendors present the benefits of using a particular DMS or Internet lead management systems (ILMS), it all looks pretty compelling. The dealer signs up and hopefully realizes some of those benefits, but then along comes along another vendor pitching a different system – say, a website, CRM or e-mail marketing program. The dealer may sign up for those as well but capitalize on none of them.

After a few years, that dealer will look around and find he’s spent big bucks on every kind of technology available, but none of it works well for him. This means that collectively, it doesn’t really work well at all. Get smart!

Source: Service Drive Magazine, December 2015

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