Coming off of an extremely successful 2016, you may be wondering how you can best keep this momentum going into the New Year. The answer is simple: service calls. Google research shows that 60 percent of consumers who perform mobile searches regarding parts, services or cars will make a phone call first.

Yet, according to Marchex, more than 10 percent of all phone calls to dealership service departments go unanswered, disconnect while on-hold or are hung up on when transferred. That’s a huge amount of potential revenue leaving your store every month. The majority of calls into service departments involve such routine items as oil changes, scheduling requests and questions about vehicle pick-up. This presents a perfect opportunity to bring some machine learning into your dealership. ​

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With this technology, many call tracking companies can now take the workload for these routine calls off of your employees, answering these calls with an automated system. Calls to schedule routine service appointments make up a large percentage of the overall call volume, with the most frequent request being to schedule a drop-off time for the vehicle.

Now when a customer calls in, they will be taken through a menu of options. For instance, if a caller needs to schedule an oil change, they would be presented the available time slots, have the ability to select the one that works best for them, and the appointment would automatically be added into the schedule.

If the customer is requesting a time to pick up their vehicle, the automated system would be able to access the schedule and get the caller an answer quickly. The best part? All of this would be done without the need of a staff member, enabling both the caller to be taken care in a timely manner and your service advisors to provide excellent customer service on site.

As profit margins for new and used vehicles slim down further, service revenue can make up for the shortfall, with more than 60 percent of the profit in most dealerships coming from the service department. A recent General Motors presentation shows that revenue climbs $700 million for every percentage point sales retention increases. Doesn’t it make sense to do everything possible to ensure your service customers are handled with speed, accuracy and given a positive experience?

These new learning tools can also be integrated into reporting functionality, helping service managers track what most matters to their customers, percentage of calls for each service need and customer satisfaction. The reports can be used in sales meetings to increase retention, appointments and CSI numbers.

While it may be too early to tell what direction the SAAR will take next year, there is no doubt that every dealership’s bottom line will benefit from an increase in customer satisfaction and appointment setting in their service lanes. Combine automated call answering with tracking and reporting and you have an easy way to increase your profits as we head into 2017.


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