Call centers using existing customer data bases and customer relationship management (CRM) systems can bring in lots of extra business at a small cost if done correctly.
A most important element of this process is finding a call center manager who can lead and train and who knows the CRM system inside and out.
Fortunately, our dealership group had a receptionist who knew the system almost as well as the CRM company programmers. She became our call center manager and is a true leader.
The system we currently use is on an all-in-one platform that allows dealers to drill into their dealership management systems (DMS) and pull out customer information in a logical report format. It allows the dealer to use imaginative marketing approaches.
CRM is taking control of your own data and marketing to your most important assets, your customers.
In Roswell, NM, we started a call center in a rented trailer with five personal computers, five phones, one full-time manager and five part-time employees who were students from the local high school business program.
The standard calls are all common sense: sold customer surveys, unsold shopper surveys, service surveys, service recalls, appointment confirmations (sales, service, and parts), appointment no-shows, complaint resolution calls and special-event calls.
Initially, we thought that 3,000 calls and 50 appointments would be a good start for our first month. Remarkably, we made 10,000 calls and 299 appointments in our first month.
We revolutionized our service appointment process using our customer data base. We quadrupled our service volume in a short time. Our parts orders are timely, and customers are coming in to get their parts installed on a timely basis.
We love our sales personnel, but traditionally they fail to follow up. Now we do not depend on sales personnel for that. For the first time we are confident that our customer follow-ups are done consistently and with high standards.
Customers in our data base have enormous value. We have already sold to them, they have a relationship with us and we have their contact information. What more could a dealer want? CRM systems help leverage that great situation.
Soon, we will be at more than 50,000 calls and 1,000 appointments a month. Our call center has become our own marketing arm doing our own mailers and generating our own letters. The letters cover all bases for sales, service and parts.
For a small group like ours, these are significant numbers. The numbers for a multi-franchised metro dealer using this simple process would be huge.
The data mining is only limited to your imagination. For example, we went back six months to see who had not been in our service department. We generated a “we-miss-you” letter and followed that up with a “we-miss-you” call scripted for the call center personnel to get customers into the service drive. Soon, our bays were full and our service writers were challenged to keep up with the volume.
We also market to customers not in our data base, but in someone else's. For example, when new families move into a small town, they contact the water department to get their water turned on. We obtained this list and sent “Hello neighbor” letters with discount coupons for sales, service and parts.
Five sales and 10 appointments were generated in our initial 100 mailings. Our return on a $100 investment was nearly $150 for every dollar spent. It wouldn't have happened without a sharp service manager with a great idea and a way to make it work. n
Gilbert A. Chavez is the former general manager for the Burt Automotive Network in Englewood, CO and is currently the chief operating officer of the Krumland Auto Group in Roswell, NM. He's at [email protected].