By Anthony Giagnacovo, CEO, CallRevu

Missed opportunities in calls make it through to service departments daily. Similarly, there are missed opportunities in the calls that fail to get answered. However, there are steps you can take to better handle these scenarios to prevent missed opportunities.

There are plenty of reasons why your team could be mishandling inbound calls:

  • Your dealership gets crushed by a wave of customers, and calls go unanswered.
  • Service advisors handle requests in person and must rush to answer calls.
  • Service advisors aren’t proactively communicating with customers.
  • Or, training is lacking, and service advisors don’t have the right skill set to recognize and make the most of available opportunities.

No matter the issue, dealerships can grab the opportunities in front of them more consistently by better understanding what is happening on the phone.

When aggregating this data and extracting insights, it’s easier to turn missed opportunities in service calls into new revenue sources and build long-term customer relationships.

As Service Calls Increase, Dealerships Are Getting Stretched Thin

Regardless, it’s never been more crucial to handle calls efficiently and effectively, given some striking trends in 2022:

  • The average dealership receives a minimum of 500 monthly service calls.
  • 38% of inbound calls go unanswered due to being abandoned, mishandled, or sent to voicemail (approx. 190 calls a month).
  • 74% of car buyers who have their vehicles serviced by the dealership are more likely to return to that dealership for their next purchase, with 35% who had their cars serviced elsewhere doing the same.
  • RO revenue is up 12% month over month.
  • Retail sales are down by 12% because people consciously decide to hold onto their cars longer instead of purchasing something new, providing dealerships with an opportunity to sell aftermarket parts and upgrades.
  • Fixed operations activities comprise 49% of the average dealership’s gross profits.

In short: Those 190 monthly missed calls are full of tremendous revenue and relationship-building opportunities. Opportunities to ensure customers are getting service work done at your dealership – or doing an aftermarket upgrade – to solidify their relationship with you. Opportunities to take care of customers when they have a concern instead of letting that concern simmer and turn into anger.

When dealerships miss these calls, it stretches you thin, stress increases, and opportunities are left behind. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Common Problems Service Departments Face on the Phone

A famous Thomas A. Edison quote applies well here: “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Instead of spending so much money on advertising, outbound call programs, and marketing, dealerships have a huge opportunity to handle inbound calls to service departments better and increase revenue because of this effort.

In fact, since 60-62% of all calls to dealerships are for the service department – it’s tough to ignore the opportunity presented.

There are a few common problems service departments face with inbound calls that do make it through:

  1. Service advisors don’t ask for an appointment from the caller often enough.
  2. Many calls get handled in a way that won’t lead to a favorable resolution of the caller’s issue.
  3. Often, quotes are priced higher than independent shops, so business is lost when the caller intends to “shop around” before making a decision.
  4. Service advisors rush people off the phone because the lines are ringing off the hook or they have other pressing issues to handle.
  5. They aren’t actively listening during the calls, leaving a poor impression on the caller and providing substandard service, which also leaves a poor impression of the dealership in the customer’s mind.

You can address the above issues with better training, roleplay, and repetition. But there’s more left to do.

Understanding Data Helps Your Dealership Improve Customer Service and Identify Opportunities

When dealerships are stretched too thin, the last thing on your mind is trying to collect data on what you’re missing in calls. Instead, the primary concern is handling calls as efficiently and professionally as possible with the resources available.

Securing access to a conversation intelligence (CI) platform makes it easier to collect this data and understand what is happening day to day and where there are opportunities for improvement.

It all begins with a better understanding of the dealership’s customer journey.

Understanding the Caller’s Journey Improves Service

When a time and resource crunch hits your dealership, you’ll have challenges understanding the typical customer’s journey because you need help to outline that journey or ensure it is what you believe it is.

When you aren’t tracking the journey, it isn’t easy to empathize with the experience of a typical caller, much less find ways to improve that experience- especially when there isn’t a record of past conversations.

With access to those conversations, it’s easier to understand what you can adapt to meet your customers where they are, with empathy, and be better prepared to solve their problems. You can also more easily identify trends in the way your customers talk about specific issues and how that relates to how your service agents behave. And whether service agents behave in a way that signals additional training or corrective action is needed.

Also, you’ll be able to identify when calls get dropped and if tech issues need to get addressed.

Finally, a CI platform has a centralized place to log call notes. So, there’s greater awareness of a customer’s status and sentiment – how they feel about your dealership as of your most recent call.

With access to these calls, you’ll be able to identify patterns across the board working in your favor – or against you – and affect those through training and resourcing to solidify relationships and capitalize on all available revenue opportunities.

Thorough Handling of Each Call Leads to Better Outcomes

During peak call times, many dealerships are under-resourced to answer incoming calls that are flooding in. Some are missed or poorly handled in a rush. We are only human and can only do so much at any time.

Especially when things are busy, your advisors may rush people off the phone, only answer their questions and miss other opportunity signals, or don’t actively listen to your customer’s real issues and reasons for their call. Instead, find a way to track calls by day and even by the hour to see when callers are the least or most likely to connect with someone from your service team.

This data helps you prepare additional staff and resources at peak times to ensure more calls are answered and handled well.

Your dealership will better identify more short-term revenue opportunities when you handle calls more professionally and consistently. But equally as important, you will lay the foundation for a long-term relationship with your customers due to the delivery of a higher and more nuanced level of service.

Missed Opportunities Don’t Have to Die on the Vine

Sometimes calls that signal a greater opportunity die on the vine without a highly trained member of the dealership service department having the chance to do the necessary outreach to ensure a positive customer resolution.

When you can monitor incoming calls in real-time and access a transcription of those calls for future reference, it’s easier to start recognizing patterns and missed opportunities. Those patterns help you train your service staff to improve performance and identify options missed in the original phone call.

Opportunities Are Waiting in Your Service Calls: Will You Take Advantage?

There’s no doubt that a variety of opportunities are waiting in your dealership’s service calls.

The question is: Will you take advantage?

With access to data from a purpose-built CI solution, the revenue and relationship-building opportunities you can surface have the potential to change your business permanently.

About the Author

Anthony Giagnacovo leads the overall growth strategy, sales, innovation, and execution at CallRevu, putting customers at the center of everything we do. He is a global software executive with over 25 years of experience launching, growing, and accelerating software organizations.

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This article was originally published in the Nov./Dec. 2022 Issue of Dealer Magazine. You can view the latest digital edition as well as past issues of Dealer Magazine here.

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