Dealerships have always geared their online efforts towards moving inventory, not fixed operations. Why is it that the departments typically producing more than 50 percent of the operating profits have such a poor online representation?
The answers vary from dealer to dealer, but one thing is for certain: You probably already have the tools available to vastly improve your service department’s digital presence and your bottom line — and one of those powerful tools is live chat.
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If your dealership currently uses managed chat to engage and convert only car buyers, you could be missing out on a significant amount of revenue from service — around $100,000 a year, in fact. Whether you’re guilty of using managed chat only for sales or not at all, here are four big ways you probably cost your dealership major dollars last year:
1. You Let Service Customers Play Phone Tag
Like car buyers, today’s service customers research multiple options before they leave home. Unfortunately, if one of them is the phone, they’re usually in for an unpleasant surprise: being put on phone hold for all eternity.
Today’s connected shoppers are accustomed to instant communication and gratification, and being sent back to the Stone Age of phone wait times is a frustration that catastrophically hurts your business. There’s a better way. Managed chat gives your clients the customer-centric live assistance they need, and it’s available even after your service drive closes.
While you might think fixed ops shoppers don’t engage in chat, the truth is a significant percentage of them do. Studies show that approximately 30 to 40 percent of managed live chat conversations are related to service and parts.
And, in an age where consumer perception is vital to customer satisfaction, staffing your Website with a professionally managed chat solution is a simple way to differentiate yourself from the dealership across the street still stuck in its archaic ways.
2. You Kept Service Staff Busy Not Working on ROs
Let’s be honest; no service advisor should be sitting behind a desk all day picking up chats. Your service team has bigger fish to fry. A properly managed chat team can handle a much higher volume of service inquiries than your in-house team, which means it both increases your revenue potential and decreases your staffing costs.
In addition, any managed chat provider worth its salt will provide your team an enhanced service lead, with not just the need-to-know information but also the good-to-know information, including:
• The last time the vehicle was serviced
• The car’s make, model and mileage
• Additional concerns such as strange noises and leaks
By leveraging managed chat for service, you free up your service team to focus on repair order quality while your chat provider helps increase satisfaction scores and prepares your customers for an excellent service lane experience.
3. You Didn’t Leverage the Data and Rapport
Another advantage to managed chat is that you’re able to streamline internal communications and contact with your customers.
Some providers can send chat transcripts, appointments and lead details straight into the DMS. This smooth transfer of data provides a more efficient way for the service team to access information, not to mention this vital integration allows service managers to focus on loading the shop more effectively based on day-to-day service volume.
As for customer-facing communications, it’s no secret that a seamless experience is essential to making it a positive one. Good managed chat providers know and understand both your brand and your service drive. The best managed chat solutions have dedicated staff to handle service chats on your behalf.
4. You Didn’t Drive Web Traffic to Your Service Bays
The final and most important benefit of managed chat is that it directly impacts your bottom line. For starters, live chat gives your dealership the unique opportunity to upsell customers in real time by promoting your current service specials through conversation.
But an even bigger opportunity comes from being able to set an appointment during a chat.
While service scheduling software allows fixed ops customers to schedule service appointments on their own, many still prefer the simplest and quickest method available — and that’s why they click to chat. More service appointments equals more ROI.
When you leverage the full potential of live chat to engage your service customers, you can see immediate financial upside by having efficient operations and increased repair order revenue.
Don’t Forget to Ask the Right Questions
With fixed ops being the lion’s share of revenue and customer relations after the initial sale, you’d think all chat providers offer service chats and appointment-setting as part of their managed solution. Unfortunately, that’s just not true.
Get all the facts before you buy and make sure you are handing off service scheduling to a hands-on team.
Even more important, take your fixed ops leads seriously; it’s money for the taking. Regardless of your service department’s profit margins, aftermarket sales are much more than that. You’re building relationships with your customers, and hopefully getting them back into your dealership. These processes will pay off in the form of referrals, positive online reviews and loyal customers.