IP Business Phone Systems for the Automotive Business
Although they share many similarities with other retailers, automotive dealerships have unique attributes that create a distinctive mix of communications challenges. Automobiles are purchases that are carefully considered, often second only to a home purchase in expense and importance to the consumer. As a result the pre- and post-sale process must be pleasant throughout. The service and repair experience must be brief, pleasant and professionally handled. Service and repair are extremely important to the dealership, because service jobs generate substantial revenues and have a lasting impact on the customer’s assessment. In sum, all customer queries must be handled courteously, expertly and swiftly.
The challenge to deliver such a high level of personalized attention is mission critical to the success of dealerships which have relatively small numbers of employees who may be dispersed in different locations at any given time. As a further complication, customer contacts are largely real-time and unscheduled via telephone, walk-in and e-mail. These factors place a tremendous load on the capabilities of communication channels in/out and within the dealership.
Traditional keyset telephones and telecommunications networks can’t meet these requirements. Instead, dealerships are turning to Vertical's Wave IP®, which merges IP telephony, data networking and voice applications to deliver a solution that substantially reduces telephony complexity and cost.
Typical communication problems experienced in automotive dealerships include:
- Service Department. On the average, dealerships have three to five service advisers who are constantly engaged on the phone or in person with customers or with the technicians in the service bays to determine when a vehicle will be ready. Service advisers must be available to answer the customer’s calls: “What is wrong with my car? How much will it cost? Is it covered under the warranty? When will it be ready?” Mishandling these calls gives their customers a reason to call competing dealerships or repair shops.
- Parts Department and Collision Shop. There are typically two to three parts specialists on duty who are often multi-tasking —picking parts for jobs in the Service Department, answering incoming phone calls from repair shops and consumers and handling walk-ins. Requests from the Service Department are the highest priority to support the repair effort. The handling of outside parts queries can be very time-consuming, sometimes requiring lengthy discussion and research to identify the correct part or parts that are needed. High volume customers reach the Parts Department on the same line as all other customers and have no prioritization over a call from a consumer that wants to buy an oil filter. In the Collision Shop, a missed call from an insurance adjuster could well represent lost revenue as the next auto repair shop on the adjuster’s list will get the call.
- Sales Department. Sales representatives must be immediately responsive to walk-in customers, and also to prospects calling in for information or appointments. Call volumes are typically heavier on holidays and weekends and during the initial period of special sales events — precisely when walk-in traffic also peaks.
- Advertising. The average dealership spends $600,000 on ads per year and may use several local papers, radio, TV and billboard media, yet doesn’t have a simple method for determining the effectiveness of one investment in comparison with the others.
The IP Phone System Solution
The Vertical Wave IP Automotive IP Phone System Solution addresses and resolves all of these issues and provides other benefits not possible with conventional telecommunications systems. Wave IP proactively serves the caller by supporting powerful voice-enabled applications that respond directly to routine inquiries, offloading them from busy sales or service agents, or distributing them directly to the appropriate person. In addition, Wave IP provides a series of unprecedented business benefits by collecting and aggregating customer call data for thoughtful and thorough analysis. Here’s how:
- Peak calling times.In the event of busy lines to Service, Parts or the Collision Shop, each department’s Auto-Attendant can be configured to provide the customer with a specific message, such as: “Thanks for holding for Service. This is Bill Jones, the Service Director. Someone will be with you in just a moment. Or: “This is Jim Jenson in the Collision Repair department. I’m on another line and will take your call in a moment. Please hold or press X to leave me a message. I will return your call within 30 minutes.”
- Calls to sales. The system can evenly distribute calls among sales reps. While a sales rep is being located, the system can be configured to tell the caller, “Please hold for the next available Jones Toyota sales representative.” Sales reps can be notified of a call in a number of ways: The system can ring the desk phone or send a text message to a Sales PC workgroup, or for reps out on the lot, it can send a page out over the public address system, such as “Toyota line…sales call,” ring a cell phone or pager, or transfer the caller to voice mail or to the BDC (Business Development Center).
- After hours. The system can prompt the caller to leave a voice mail, for example, “We are currently closed, but please leave a message and we will return your call promptly on the next business day. Or, you may visit our website at http://www.xyzdealership.com to schedule an appointment with our Service Department or one of our sales associates.” With time-of-day reporting, management can determine how many calls came in after the department or store was closed to fine tune hours of operations to customers’ demand.
- Assess advertising effectiveness. Callers using phone numbers assigned to specific advertisements, billboards, and radio/TV ads can be identified by the system, which can then in turn automatically determine the effectiveness of these investments by quantifying the number and pattern of calls for each campaign.
This Proven, Cost-Effective IP Phone System Solution:
- Reduces the number of failed incoming calls.
- Assures the accurate routing of incoming calls.
- Enhances the customer calling experience.
- Provides personnel with flexibility to leave their desk, counter, or work bay and forward calls to a portable or wireless phone.
- Can automate the delivery of information such as hours of operation and directions, freeing up personnel for other tasks.
- Can deliver special sales messages while the caller is on hold.
- Can provide valuable business intelligence.
- Can help assess the value of marketing campaigns and special offers.
- Can provide a 24/7 presence for your dealership.
- Can establish a single voice footprint for a multi-location dealership.
- Provides data that enable you to immediately identify and resolve call management problems at the department, individual store or enterprise-wide level.
- Provides data that enable you to recognize and reward good performance.
- Enables you to optimize staffing levels by identifying peak calling patterns and periods and most frequently called locations and departments.
- Provides diagnostic data you can use to optimize the allocation of trunks and lines and fine-tune infrastructure costs.
- Provides the calling data you need to guide promotion and business planning and investment decisions with assurance.
- Enables you to conveniently manage your communications infrastructure with surgical accuracy, including upgrades and moves, adds and changes from one location.
Find out more about Wave IP in our product area.