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Give Your CRM Good Data for More Profitable Customer Connections

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One constant message we send to customers is that their CRM is only as good as the data entered in it. The way data is captured, managed and utilized in the CRM is the key to customer acquisition and retention.

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Now, some dealers may think advertising is the most effective way to reach customers. Advertising can get expensive quickly, however, and it’s difficult to know if you’re even reaching your intended audience. So, why aren’t dealers focusing on utilizing their CRMs to generate more business from their known customer base? The answer likely lies in the fact that not enough sufficient data is being captured for the CRM to be effective.

Resolving Issues

The only way you can utilize your customer information is if your salespeople are up to speed on the CRM. If they don’t know how to use it, it’s time to kick your training efforts into high gear. Training conducted at the dealership and online, along with having go-to staff members who can serve as your CRM advocates, will help your employees get up to speed quickly.

The more difficult roadblock you may encounter is employees refusing to adopt your CRM system. To fix this, you must stop the usage of any other customer capture systems and adopt a culture of, “If it is not in the CRM, it didn’t happen.” In addition, reinforcing the role-specific benefits of CRM usage — increased sales, saved time, etc. — will lead resistant employees to jump onboard.

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Capturing Interactions

To create a database truly useful to your dealership, you must record every interaction into the CRM. Poor usage leads to missing customers and/or missed contact information. The data can’t help you if it is entered incorrectly or isn’t entered at all.

There are many reasons why data may not be captured accurately or often enough, including turnover, hardware limitations and low overall CRM utilization. The most troubling reason, though, is when the staff doesn’t see the value of the system. If this is the case, you have to show your salespeople the positive impact a CRM system can have on their customer interactions, sales and bottom line. Appointing a highly visible and well-respected CRM advocate and creating recognition programs for stellar CRM usage and results are great ways to motivate the entire team.

The culture at the dealership needs to change from the inside out and from the top down, with managers and staff understanding the importance of capturing customer information and, ultimately, the cost savings and revenue potential. Managers have to hold their salespeople accountable for entering the data — and hold themselves accountable for verifying that it is being captured.

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Utilizing Your Data

Once you have created a culture where the CRM is used for each customer interaction, what can you do with all the information you have acquired?

On the customer side, you can go beyond “Hello, First Name,” and start running campaigns that show you know your audience. Monitor sales customers who have never set foot in your service bay and send them a quick “hello” and service coupon. On the flip side, take advantage of inbound service appointment data. If customers have serviced but never purchased, assess their trade and give them a compelling offer while they’re in your waiting room.

On your staffing side, the data and conversations entered in your system can help you prospect for salespeople and managers. The data can help you identify the rock stars who can take your dealership to the next level.

Action Plan

When it comes to data in the CRM, it’s important to remember the following three steps: capture, manage and utilize. In capturing data, train your team properly and look for areas where there may be poor data capture. When managing the data, track everyone’s progress and what is being captured, and address problems promptly. In utilizing the data, sharpen your targeted campaigns and make your customer interactions more personal.

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Data by itself isn’t inherently valuable — it’s how you use it that makes it worth something. Gather your sales managers, service managers and BDC managers to create a plan for using the information you’re entering into the CRM, then review your success regularly and adjust.

Mark Vickery

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