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A true story in a dealership:
A dealer was wondering why at 2 PM, every single day, the number of phone-ups dramatically decreased. He was confused as to why in the middle of the day, no one was available. He decided to set an alarm on his phone for 1:58 PM, because 2:00 PM was the drop-off time he noticed in his call tracking reporting. When his alarm went off, he walked down to to the showroom floor to see what was going on. He sees his team all walking out of the building, and to his surprise, they are walking across the street.
The dealer decides to follow them to see what they are up to. The group of salesmen were walking to a Sonic...yes...Sonic. And when he saw this happening, he goes up to his team and asks what they were doing. His team said that Sonic had a milkshake happy hour at 2 PM every day. Needless to say, this process was stopped immediately.
Did you know that 37% of your connected sales calls are not reaching the intended agent? Now, there are many reasons that this could happen, but most are leading to the person that the caller is trying to reach is unknowingly not available. Whether the voicemail was reached or the requested agent was not at their desk, there are simple methods that could lead to an increase in connectivity immediately.
Track your phone calls: Tracking your phone calls is key to creating awareness to when you need to adjust your staffing. This helps the awareness of knowing who needs to be covering the phones at what time, to ensure all bases are covered.
Staff to accommodate peak call times: Make sure you have an operator on staff at all times to avoid initial phone handling by people not trained to answer the phones or properly utilize the phone system. Look at your call volume and staff accordingly.
Know before you go: Be aware of what is happening on your showroom floor. Are your people available when they need to be? Set an alarm on your phone to check your showroom floor where your connectivity rate is dropping. See first-hand if there is something going on that is preventing your team from fully operating.
Don’t blame the receptionist. Blame the process: We expect our receptionists to do so much. Understand your people, process, and hardware problems. The average issue with the phones comes from a lack of process and a lack of training. For example, instead of immediately blind transferring a phone call, provide the receptionist with a video monitor and allows he/she to have access to live footage of all necessary rooms. This provides the first responder with the tools imperative to properly transfer a phone call and not rely on whether their desk phone is set to ‘away’ or not.
Stagger hours and breaks: Watching your staffing closely can also help you save money in the long run. If you notice that you don’t receive many calls during a certain hour, there is no need to have as many phone handlers available. Stagger your team’s hours and lunch breaks to make sure you have more people available to answer phones during peak hours, and less available during lower volume hours.
While your current process may not as be as painful as the discovery of your team at a Sonic, there are always ways to improve connectivity rates by utilizing the resources you already have and not hiring more.
Image Compliments of Eder Pozo Pérez
Publish Date: February 15, 2016 5:00 AM
If you are a football fan like I am, you can’t help but get excited about the Super Bowl. Even if your team isn’t playing in it. But if you’re like most Americans, you also anticipate some of the best commercials of the year.
According to USA Today, companies will pay up to $5 Million dollars for just 30 seconds of air time. That only accounts for the ad space. When you factor in how much it costs to contract stars like Steve Harvey or Helen Mirren, those costs can double!
As we settled in to watch what could be Peyton Manning riding off on his hypothetical retirement horse (Colt or Bronco? You decide.) I couldn’t help but wonder, how many millions in ad dollars were also riding off into the sunset, never to be seen again?
Before we broach that topic, I noticed something pretty cool that didn’t cost any money. Peyton Manning responding to reporters during a post-game interview: “I want to go kiss my wife and my kids. I want to go hug my family. I’m going to drink a lot of Budweiser tonight…”
Budweiser immediately tweeted:
A spokesperson for Anheuser-Busch stated that Peyton Manning was not paid by Budweiser. However, he’s made comments like this in the past. Could it have anything to do with his stake in Anheuser-Busch? I’ll let you decide. Either way, this is a shining example of what can be achieved from building really loyal fans. A plug from Peyton Manning is worth about $3.2 million.
While a free plug is something to strive for, Super Bowl ads mean serious business. Companies simply cannot afford to fumble when so much is on the line. Leading up to the game, I had to wonder… when companies advertise, even if they have the best commercial, are they ready for the attention of 115.5 million viewers? I specifically wondered, for companies that posted a phone number, would they be ready to take my call?
So I set out to call every company that used a phone number in their ad. I timed how long it would take to reach a live person, and took some notes on the company’s phone process. Here's what I experienced:
All calls I made involved phone trees with multiple annoying prompts. Press one for English? Then 10 options to choose after that? Yuck! Even the best took me 90 seconds to reach a live person. (thanks Esurance!). Even though 90 seconds is an eternity, especially when you forget you have burgers on the grill.
Speaking of burgers...while I ran out to tend the grill, I tasked my buddies and my fiancé with writing down any commercials that I may have missed so that I could call them when I finished. To my surprise, when I returned…I had 4 numbers to call. I quickly began dialing. One was an Ostrich Farm, and the other was a hookup hot line. Note to self: get new friends.
So after being on the receiving end of what I even though was a funny prank, I pressed on with my study.
T-mobile flashed on the screen and I began dialing. I have actually seriously considered switching, but not after spending 10 minutes and 6 seconds on hold. Had I received a call back after hanging up on hold, I may be their customer right now. But with no such follow up, they lost an opportunity. So much of advertising success is about timing and the phone plays a huge part in connecting with opportunities at the right time.
Companies like Jublia actually fared slightly better. If Deion Sanders in a spa with a ninja toe doesn’t get you pumped about fighting toe nail fungus, I don’t know what will. Call their company and you’ll have to go through a handful of prompts and then hold for roughly a minute...but, you will hit a live person.
My biggest take away from this study was that very few companies made it easy to reach them on the phones.
So, whether you work for the marketing department of a massive fortune 500 company, or you are a small business owner…ask yourself the following:
1. Do our customers have to hit multiple auto-attendant prompts before the phone rings to a live person?
2. How long do our customers hold before reaching help?
3. Most importantly, is our company making it easy for a customer to pick up their smartphone and call us?
Based on your answers, you should already know where you need to allocate a portion of your marketing budget in 2016. Fixing the phones. Sunday night, many companies whimsically attributed ROI to the ad dollars they spend. Don’t get hung up on. To be the MVP of your company, you must fight for every inch.
Because as Al Pacino says in Any Given Sunday, “Cause we know, when we add up all those inches that's going to make the difference between WINNING and LOSING, between LIVING and DYING."
I agree with Al.
Master phone processes and skills at your dealership through my on demand videos and online training sessions. Click the button to get started.
Publish Date: February 9, 2016 5:00 AM
Let’s Talk About Alerts
In an ideal world, alerts wouldn’t be necessary because every call would be answered promptly, routed correctly, and handled appropriately. But, the reality is that sometimes calls get dropped, missed, or mishandled. That’s where alerts come into play.
The value of a missed call or missed opportunity alert is comparable to the ability it provides to take appropriate action. Alerts need to be delivered timely and consistently, they need to be acted upon quickly, and they need to provide the right amount of information in order for the follow up to be successful.
Unlocking the Value – Notification Speed & Response Time
Ok, so we know mistakes happen, now what?
The secret to success lies in turning that misstep into actionable intelligence and ultimately into a deal saved. The impact of saved opportunities can be the difference between a good and a great month. Keep in mind, if an opportunity is mishandled, or a caller gets frustrated and hangs up, they don’t stop shopping – they just stop shopping with you.
Missed calls and missed opportunities don’t need to mean “game over”. The key is to consistently respond and follow up before the lead goes cold. For missed calls (e.g. an on-hold hang-up, unanswered line, misdirected extension, or full mailbox), these are the most time-sensitive. We recommend handling missed calls in under 30 minutes to increase the likelihood of reaching that individual.
For missed opportunities, such as where a call ends abruptly despite having collected sufficient information for an appointment, or a voicemail about a trade is left on a sales agent’s line, the sweet spot is between 30 and 90 minutes.
Beyond 2 hours, the chances of speaking with that prospect drop to the level of standard outbound call campaigns (around 10% connection rate).
Customers expect real-time responses, and alerts deliver real-time feedback on missed opportunities.
Alerts help you react to calls and address training and process issues that affect the total caller experience both in real-time and for the future. Being able to act on vital feedback and metrics will save deals today and correct problems that will lead to a better experience tomorrow. Your customers tell you every day how to improve your bottom line, all you need to do is listen.
Publish Date: February 4, 2016 5:00 AM
When you think about VIP, what comes to mind? Is it someone who gets special treatment at a nightclub? Someone who can get the club box seats at the playoff game? Celebrities? Athletes? What about when you feel like a VIP? Just think about it, when you go to your favorite bar, is it something about the customer experience that makes you come back? Do they address you by name when you walk in and do they ask if you want the ‘regular’ as your drink? Little efforts like this are what make a consumer want to come back and feel like a true VIP.
Just recently, there was a trending story of a company, Zulily, who refused to accept a coat return. Instead, the customer service department asked the woman, who called asking for a refund upon return, to donate the coat to someone in need or to a charity. This gesture by a customer service representative has not only made the woman a customer for life, but the trending story has most likely converted many online-shoppers to the discount online store.
For us, a VIP is a customer of your dealership. Each and every customer should feel like they are a VIP when they enter your dealership. From the special greeting and being addressed by name when they walk into the showroom, to having the car pulled up before they arrive, all play an important role in converting a one time car buyer into a customer for life.
But, it is more than just the in-store appointment to truly make a customer feel like a real VIP. Keeping in touch with your customers is key to making them feel important. Making calls to your customers to follow up with them after the purchase, calling your previous customers to ask them how their current cars are holding up and if they would be interested in a trade-in, texting, and calling leads with a new inventory of cars and pictures that may be of interest to them, all play a role in helping create a VIP experience. The outbound effort, whether text, call, or email, is required by you and your team to create the customer experience you need, and the customer retention that you want.
Make the upgrade process easy by treating each and every customer like a VIP in 5 simple steps:
Provide the customer with a compelling offer that is personalized to their circumstances. Know who you are calling, and identify benefits of your upgrade program that will be of high value to each individual prospect you call.
Customers have become more educated and to some extent desensitized to rebates and special finance rates. Structure your offer to combine these elements in an effective way (with your customers “hot-buttons” in mind) and then provide some sort of an additional incentive element specific to your store and consistent with your brand.
As you speak with your prospects and customers, make sure to let them know that you have a unique process outlined specifically for VIP customers like them. Provide them with a realistic expectation for how long the process should take, clear directions on where to go within the dealership, and the name of a specific manager(s) to approach upon arrival. If your dealership is unable to make the calls directly, consider using an outbound call center.
Assign someone to assist your customers immediately upon arrival. Focus on comfort and atmosphere; beverages and simple snacks can be a nice way to make a terrific first impression with your prospect. Prior to your customer’s arrival, have 1-2 vehicles that the customer may be interested in segmented from the inventory, cleaned, and specifically marked as being “RESERVED” for your prospect.
Confirm the appointment with your client 24 hours in advance of their appointment date and time. Whenever possible, try to send them a personalized text or email with an expression of gratitude and a picture of the vehicle they are interested in. Your efforts here, and your willingness to take personalization seriously, will greatly improve your show rate. Your customers will appreciate the effort you have put into serving them in advance of their arrival. Utilize a 3-step appointment setting process.
Set the appointment - Give the customer you are targeting a call and set the appointment.
Confirm - Place a call to the customer by a manager to verify the appointment approximately 2 hours after the initial appointment set ll to reinforcing the details and clarifying their expectations. An important question to ask your prospect is, “Was there anything important you may have thought of after our call that I can help with?”
Follow-up with the customer before the appointment - Give the customer a call/text/and or email 24 hours in advance. Remember the personal touch!
One of the most profitable sales agent in the automotive industry is so successful because she makes each customer’s experience special. She leaves chocolates and candies with a note in the cup holder for when the car is picked up, or when the customer comes in to test drive. She calls her customers with follow-ups on how they are doing, and makes the effort to get to know each person. Reporting a significant income, she gives attribution to these “little” things on her successful career. It is the “little things” that make the experience for a customer one to remember. Inspiring the customer to spread the word that your dealership is the place to go is what creates customers for life.
No time to make the outbound calls necessary for creating a VIP customer experience at your dealership? Check out this special offer from our call center:
Publish Date: January 15, 2016 5:00 AM
Did you know that 85% of women would rather have a root canal than buy a car? Seems odd when you consider that women influence or make 85% of all auto purchases, which equates to $80 billion spent annually. Now, throw in what they spend on servicing their vehicles and we’re talking more like $300 billion per year. With so much buying power, how is it they prefer a visit to the endodontist over buying a car?
It could be that women feel misunderstood by the auto industry, and why shouldn't they when 93% of car salespeople are men? Women’s priorities are different than men's and a woman is less likely to feel ignored or patronized when speaking to another woman. As statistics show, women pay $1,000 more, on average, per car, so it could also be that women feel taken advantage of at car dealerships.
So how can you improve your customer experience to make the car buying process more appealing to women?
Women do more research than men. They typically know all the specifics they want in a vehicle before purchasing and they are willing to wait for it. While this can extend the sales process, it gives your dealership an opportunity to make it appealing to her. Use this opportunity to communicate to her that your dealership will deliver what she asked for like trim lines, features, warranty, horsepower, gas efficiency and more. Your end goals are the same. You both want her to drive away in the car she wants, but high pressure tactics won’t work.
Most women are not comfortable with the negotiation process, and some aren’t aware that it is even possible. This leads women to paying higher prices than men for the same cars. Should the news get out that your dealership doesn’t negotiate well with female car buyers, you won’t attract new ones. If they’re treated fairly and women spread the word, as they’re known to do on social media, your dealership has an opportunity to sell to this powerful buying group.
Shine a spotlight on your salespeople's processes to ensure they’re treating all customers with respect. Some salespeople believe that women do not know much about cars or the car buying process and take advantage of that. Even if a woman is informed, she is still treated differently. Implementing a mystery shopping program can reveal parts of the journey that may make women not want to shop at your dealership.
If the buying experience is a positive one for women, they’re more likely to be loyal, repeat customers in your service department generating even more revenue for your dealership.
Download this comprehensive guide to setting up a mystery shopping program at your dealership the right way.
Publish Date: December 29, 2015 5:00 AM
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