By Tiffany Peeler, Vice President of Sales & Operations, Proactive Dealer Solutions

Fixed Ops is evolving fast. Dealerships across the country are adopting technology solutions with the ability to deliver instant information and Amazon-like customer convenience. At the top of the list is service scheduling technology integrated with Digital Voice Assistants (DVAs).

DVAs have the ability to answer 100 percent of inbound service calls, provide answers to common questions such as dealership hours and pricing, and schedule appointments. This is a great convenience for customers, and also for your dealership as it frees-up service staff to work with belly-to-belly customers and make revenue-producing outbound service calls.

Yet, all DVAs are not created equal. It’s well worth your while to contrast and compare providers to ensure you’re installing software that will drive a more efficient, productive, and profitable service drive. Ask these five questions of all providers before deciding.

1. Does the DVA fully integrate with my online scheduling tool? Your online scheduling tool initiates the entire service experience for your customers, so a DVA must be fully integrated to ensure accurate information and appointment setting. Your DVA will follow the specifications and rules in your scheduler, from pricing information to transportation options. That’s why it’s so important to fine-tune your tool to ensure it’s working the way you want it to before implementing a DVA. You may be surprised to learn what’s really going on. Real examples from dealerships include a tool that was misconfigured to display the shop closed on Thursdays when it was very much open. Another scheduler allowed only two customers to wait for Quick Service at a time when the dealership could easily handle up to five.

2. Can the DVA handle appointment scheduling from start to finish? The goal of a DVA is to minimize complexity and remove obstacles for customers to access your service department. Some DVA’s on the market only do half the job by instructing callers to visit your website and set their own appointments with your online scheduler. Although online tools were originally built for customer self-service, the reality is that incoming calls to service departments increased by over 16 percent in 2021 and continue to rise. Many customers say they prefer to book over the phone so they can ask specific questions about services. A highly capable DVA that can answer every question and fully book appointments will deliver the experience and convenience customers want – boosting satisfaction and loyalty.

3. Can the DVA suggest other relevant services, such as maintenance based on miles and open recalls? Your DVA should facilitate your customers’ ability to make decisions about repairs and recalls during the scheduling process. When customers have every piece of necessary information you can streamline and optimize the experience. A highly capable DVA will cross-check a returning customer’s VIN with open recalls and manufacturer-recommended services and offer to add any services to the appointment. The DVA will also offer scheduled maintenance suggestions to new customers when they provide vehicle year, make, model, and mileage. This ability allows you the opportunity to make vehicles safer and build trust with existing and new customers.

4. Can the DVA offer transportation options? It’s important to select a DVA that can be customized to your specific transportation policies. According to a survey by Fixed Ops Journal, slightly more than 8 in 10 people said it was important to be offered a loaner free transportation such as loaner vehicles, shuttle service, or even concierge service if your dealership offers the convenience of picking up and dropping off vehicles. Of course, not all dealerships can offer transportation options, but those who do need to make customers aware so they can take advantage of it. A DVA configured to offer transportation options will follow scheduling protocols to ensure loaners are never double-booked and customers are only promised transportation your dealership can provide.

5. Can the DVA help control my shop capacity? This is an important question to ask to promote more efficient workflows and deliver the best customer experience possible. The right DVA will automatically route customers to the right advisor and specific services to the right technician. Without this functionality, service advisors may be overwhelmed with too many customers at once which kills the customer experience.

Fixed Ops is evolving, and a DVA is a big part of that change. A highly-capable DVA will ensure 100 percent of calls are answered around the clock, complete appointments from start to finish, promote recalls and required maintenance, and even offer transportation options. The result is a more efficient and productive service drive and a seamless customer experience that drives loyalty and high CSI scores.

About the Author

Tiffany Peeler is Vice President of Sales & Operations at Proactive Dealer Solutions, a leading provider of training, software, and BDC solutions for the automotive industry. 

Author: Christine Corkran

Digital Dealer