Service BDC is NOT Business as Usual

So, your dealership has decided to implement a Service BDC: Congratulations your dealership just started a customer care business unit and this business unit is nothing like what has been seen before. Up until now most of the inbound call traffic has either filtered through your receptionist and or has ringed simultaneously on all service department extensions. Well, answering all these calls has not been an easy task. Following the implementation of a Service BDC, a.k.a. customer care center, your dealership has hopefully quantified the challenge and has written down a clear statement of purpose. With the additional investments made in equipment and technology and added payroll expense of multiple agents and a supervisor, business expectations are now beyond simply answering these calls and telling customers to “just-bring-it-in”. It will not be business as usual and a new mindset and new skill sets will be required for success. What must be done then? We highlight some of the challenges and their potential solutions below for new car dealerships to consider.

  • Happy and joyful phone greeting.

Let’s start with the basics. Let’s make sure the answering agents are smiling through the phone. Every single instance of the phone greeting not only represents your brand but also enhances and, even in some cases, creates it. The reality is; many customers are anxious about bringing their vehicles in for service. Not only because of unexpected expenses that may pop up, but also the thought of being without their main mode of transportation even for half a day is just downright scary. Making each call greeting a pleasant one and always putting your customer’s needs before your own will set the right tone.

  • Proper talk-track to overcome customer frustrations.

One of the biggest mistakes dealerships or third-party vendors make when implementing a Service BDC is thinking that what worked in sales will also work in service. However, this line of thinking is fundamentally flawed. Sales BDCs are dealing with customers who happened to have a completely different emotional state. The conclusion of every sales interaction is that there is a big win waiting for every customer at the end: Driving off in a brand new car! Not so with service. Instead of a big win, at the end of a service transaction there might be a big bill waiting for them. The set of emotions in customers, which this uncertainty creates, require a completely different set of skills, talk-track and inflections to manage. Reassuring, calming, and compassionate words must be used to mitigate any stress triggers. Customers will appreciate this effort and entrust your dealership with all their hard-earned dollars.

  • Proper and accurate service menu options.

Many customers will inquire about pricing before they book an appointment. Your agents ability to not only provide accurate price quotes, but also to effectively communicate all the features and benefits of each service item will create credibility and customer confidence. Having a universal pricing strategy in the form of menu items based on each vehicle model speaks to the care and attention every customer deserves. Use your scheduling software to create easy-to-comprehend, and customer friendly menu items. It is incumbent upon management to truly understand the customer base and the surrounding demographics by custom tailoring their service offerings along with market competitive pricing. Also utilizing a detailed menu will reduce the number of times an agent will have to put a customer on hold and go ask a service advisor about the right price of the requested items or all that it contains. Make sure to link your proper operations codes in your DMS with the newly created menu item for accurate reporting results.

  • Instant communication with the service staff.

Your dealership has now truly ventured into a customer care business and might as well add a third word at the end: “communication”. No business can ever truly prosper without having an effective communication strategy with both their clients and internal team members. Better communication equals to increased operational efficiency also known as ‘productivity’. Marketing is what often drives revenue, but you can bet your bottom dollar that operational efficiency will drive your profit margins like little else. Therefore it is imperative that Service BDCs are complemented with the latest communication tools for both internal conversations and external engagements. Online tools such Slack can be utilized for internal communication as well one can create their own messaging board. For customer engagements look into various texting applications which many technology vendors are offering within their pre-existing services and solutions packages. Ultimately, you should have a plan in place to exploit all possible communication channels between your service drive personnel, the Service BDC team, and your customers.

  • Who’s managing it?

The most understated element which ultimately dictates the success or failure of this effort is going to be the Business Development Manager (BDM) or the person in-charge of running your Service BDC. In-house BDMs are essential for hiring and training agents and fine tuning your Service BDC moving forward. However, if you hire an unqualified person for this job, your entire program could be at risk. Don’t just hire a candidate who looks good on paper. Take your time and set aside a week to interview multiple candidates. Hire the one who is not only qualified but also a great fit for your dealership culture. Your BDM must be able to work and collaborate with a wide range of personality types. From the GM to a fixed operations manager, service drive manager and right down to the advisor. These various dealership positions require a varied set of personality traits. The center point of your Service BDC is going to be the BDM and his or her ability to carry forward the diverse interests and serve up multiple roles will be critical. Also your BDM must possess a combination of both technology and customer service experience. Research the space thoroughly and learn from other verticals. Do not hesitate to provide your BDM and your Service BDC with tools necessary to succeed in today’s hyper competitive environment. Constantly learn from your own operations by making analytics and reporting the most critical aspect of this endeavor. This business unit requires a leader who possesses a blend of high IQ (intelligent quotient) as well as a high EQ (emotional quotient) to succeed.  Don’t skimp on this position, pay well.  You may even consider poaching a proven, experienced candidate.

This is not going to be an easy task or a set-it-and-forget-it type of a mission. There is no doubt, today having some sort of a Service BDC, whether on-site or remote is absolutely mission critical for not only higher profits but also for higher Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) scores. Many OEMs are pushing for this and laying out the ground work to make this department a “must have” for every new car dealer partner. Ultimately, this operation will be the responsibility of the new car dealers to manage and grow. Luckily, today there are few vendors ready to assist in any shape or form. Whether in the form of consulting to help you execute your own on-site Service BDC or help you take the entire burden off by offering end-to-end solutions. Reach out to the market players in this space, set up educational sessions to learn from past mistakes and current successes. Dealers, it is time to start separating yourself from the competition. Your customers and you deserve the best!