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leadership solution

five questions to answer when choosing a phone system DUads-autoSuccess2012-01a.pdf

Imagine you are a consumer calling your dealership. Was your call answered in fewer than four rings? Did the dealership employee immediately know your name? Was the employee quickly and easily able to identify the source of your call or whether you had an open repair order at the dealership? Most importantly, were your expectations met for how your call should be handled?

The telephone is the original customer relationship management (CRM) tool. A poorly handled phone call can quickly cost your dealership a customer, while, conversely, a more personal, informed interaction with the caller can help you close the sale and bring in more referrals. That can amount to thousands of dollars hinging on each and every phone call. Newer telephone communication systems for dealerships are designed specifically to help you maximize your investment in this vital business tool. Yet, communication systems are one of the most overlooked technology upgrades in the dealership, despite their potential for increasing customer satisfaction, employee efficiency and revenue. With that in mind, here are some questions to answer when evaluating a communication system for your dealership. 1. Will this communication system help my dealership meet its business goals?

Before looking for a new telephone communication system, identify your primary business goals so you can choose the system that will deliver the best results for your dealership. These goals may include: • Improving your operations by answering the phone more promptly • Capturing more sales or service revenue by being able to set more appointments • Tracking the best sources for sales leads to help you maximize the effectiveness of your advertising • Reducing expenses by not having to hire additional personnel to handle an increase in call volume 2. Does the phone system communicate with my DMS?

While this question has a simple “yes” or “no” answer, telephone systems that integrate with your dealership management system (DMS) ultimately will offer you the most features and flexibility to help you meet your business goals. 3. Does the phone system include features that help improve the customer experience and make my




employees more productive and efficient?

A communication system should enhance both your customer’s and your employee’s overall experience. Telephone systems that integrate with the DMS allow you to offer higher levels of customer service, while also improving the productivity and efficiency of your employees. Some customer-friendly and time-saving features to look for include: • On-screen alerts that increase the speed and amount of customer information available to the employee answering the call; information such as the customer’s name, the source of the call and any open transactions at your dealership, including the caller’s upcoming service appointments or open repair order or special parts order status • Voice notification software that can automatically notify customers of important transactions, such as repair order completion, upcoming service appointments or special order parts arrival • A self-service feature that permits callers to navigate through an easy-to-use menu to check the status of special order parts Learn more at: or vehicle repairs without having to speak directly with a dealership employee (but, of course, also includes the option to speak to someone if needed) • Call-routing capabilities that allow you to control how customer calls are directed so that they are answered in a timely manner by the right person or department

If you enjoy paying 3X more than the big guys for the identical product; then Dealers United is not for you.

4. What additional benefits will my dealership receive from this particular communication system?

In addition to asking about DMS integration, you should ask whether the phone system integrates with your CRM solution. Integration between the phone system and your CRM tool enables you to better plan and manage customer follow-up and allows you to track the marketing or advertising source of the call to measure campaign effectiveness. Also, phone systems that provide inbound and outbound call recording and reporting can help dealership managers track and review telephone calls to confirm dealership processes are being followed and identify any training opportunities. 5. What type of training and support will we receive with this phone system?

A large percentage of a dealership’s daily customer interactions are conducted by phone, so reliability is an absolute “must have” of any communication system. Be sure to ask your provider about the support options available and what measures are in place to keep your phone system working in the event your dealership loses power. Proper training for you and your staff will help you make the most of the features in your communication system. Ask your system provider about the training you’ll receive at the time of installation and any options for on-going training. By answering these questions, you’ll be better able to identify the best phone system for your dealership and put in place the right communication tools to maximize employee effectiveness, reduce expenses and improve the customer experience, all of which can lead to better results for your dealership. Jon Strawsburg is the vice president of product planning at The Reynolds and Reynolds Company. He can be contacted at 866.883.8254, or by e-mail at


AutoSuccess February 2012  

The #1 Sales-Improvement Magazine for the Automotive Professional - featuring Tier10 Marketing

AutoSuccess February 2012  

The #1 Sales-Improvement Magazine for the Automotive Professional - featuring Tier10 Marketing