By Jason Beckett, COO, Proactive Dealer Solutions
Inbound service calls are low-funnel opportunities that must be handled properly. Many dealers believe ringing phones are answered by their in-house team. During busy times and after-hours, they believe a few calls are sent to an overflow system, whether voicemail or an answering service.
In fact, the average dealership books only one percent of service appointments after-hours. The shocking truth is that up to nine percent of appointable service calls are sent to overflow during one business day. Most of those calls are never recovered because the customer chooses not to leave a message, the voicemail box is full, or the wait time to speak with an answering service agent is too long so customers hang up. And they don’t try again. Studies show that 68 percent of customers do not call back if their initial call goes unanswered.
Sending calls to overflow directly impacts your bottom line. A 2018 NADA study estimates revenue per customer-pay RO was $280 on average. It’s safe to assume that number has increased. In fact, an internal study of our current dealer clients found the average has jumped to $370. Using that number, sending just 10 calls to overflow daily costs your shop $3,700 in lost revenue every day. And that’s on the conservative side.
Regardless of the reason, when service calls are not getting picked up it’s time to consider other options. Two of the most effective are implementing a Digital Voice Assistant (DVA) to handle inbound calls, hiring an external BDC, or a combination of the two. Here are the advantages of each option.
Advantages of a DVA
1. 100% call connectivity. A DVA integrated with your online scheduling tool answers every single call, 24-hours per day. You can recapture opportunities that may have gone to overflow previously.
2. Better customer experience. A DVA can schedule a routine service appointment in about three minutes. A human takes an average of six minutes. The best experience comes with a DVA that handles all the work for the customer, not one that simply texts customers a link to your online scheduling tool and expects them to self-schedule.
3. No staffing issues. A DVA answers every call, never calls in sick, and never asks for bonus pay. We’re also seeing a DVA can handle up to 60 hours of call time per day. No human can match that.
4. Higher revenue per RO. Our internal data proves the average revenue per RO for a DVA is $437. That’s nearly $70 more than for a human making an appointment. This can be attributed to the fact that a DVA never deviates from proper phone handling, such as always checking for additional needed services, recalls, etc.
5. More time for belly-to-belly customers. You want your service advisors to focus on the customers in front of them, not on ringing phones.
6. Focus on revenue-generating outbound calls. With a DVA handling inbound calls, your in-house team can focus on making outbound revenue-generating calls that typically get pushed to the back-burner.
Advantages of an external BDC
1. Flexibility. An external BDC has immediate scalability to meet your needs at any time of the day. The best overstaff by 20 percent to ensure phones are always picked up.
2. Cost. An external BDC can be more cost-effective than hiring and training employees. In light of our current labor shortage, you also don’t have to worry about finding skilled applicants.
3. Transparency. A reputable external BDC will offer complete transparency with a dashboard that allows you to listen to calls and review real-time metrics, including the number of appointments made and revenue per RO.
4. Knowledge and expertise. Today’s BDC is a vast improvement over the past. Professional agents with automotive knowledge adhere to your culture and processes. Ongoing training, scorecards, and call calibration ensure customers always receive the best experience.
5. Campaign management. An automotive-focused BDC should be able to suggest and manage revenue-producing campaigns. The best can data-mine your DMS to find and act on opportunities.
Some dealers prefer to combine a DVA with an external BDC. This works well if you want to ensure complete inbound phone coverage as well as run multiple outbound phone campaigns. A reputable BDC will also be flexible so that if you want to cut back during certain times and ramp up activity during others, contracts can be adjusted accordingly.
One thing is certain: in-bound service calls are low-funnel opportunities that can add thousands to your bottom line every day. Don’t risk sending them to an overflow system. Consider adding a DVA and/or external BDC to make sure every call is answered.