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Switchboard? Switch phones.

Telephone operator using antique switchboard
Article Highlights:

  • 5 questions to ask before upgrading your phone system.
  • Choose a phone system that maximizes your investments.

The telephone is the original customer relationship management (CRM) tool. A poorly handled phone call can quickly cost your dealership a customer. Conversely, a more personal, informed interaction with the caller can help you win the deal and bring in more referrals. That can amount to thousands of dollars hinging on each incoming call.

Newer telephone systems are designed specifically to help you maximize your investment. Yet, they are one of the most overlooked upgrades in the dealership, despite their potential for increasing customer satisfaction, employee efficiency, and revenue.

With that in mind, here are some questions to ask before upgrading the phone system in your dealership.

  1. Will this phone system help my dealership meet its business goals?

Before looking for a new telephone system, identify your primary business goals so you can choose the system that will deliver the best results. Common goals we see include:

  • Improve operations by answering the phone promptly.
  • Capture more sales or service revenue by proactively setting more appointments.
  • Track the best sources of sales leads to help maximize advertising effectiveness.
  • Reduce expenses by eliminating additional staffing to handle increased call volumes.
  1. 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) provide immediate access to one of your strongest assets, your customer records.

  1. Does the phone system include features that help improve the customer experience and make my employees more productive and efficient?

A phone 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. Look for these customer-friendly, time-saving features:

  • On-screen alerts that increase the speed and amount of customer information available to the employee answering the call; the source of the call, customer’s name, upcoming service appointments, or open repair order or special parts order status are just a few pieces of information that should be front and center.
  • Automated voice notification software alerting customers of important events, such as repair order completion, upcoming service appointments, or special order parts arrival.
  • A self-service feature permitting callers to navigate through an easy-to-use menu to check the status of special order parts or vehicle repairs without having to speak directly with a dealership employee. Not only does this meet the needs of the customer faster, but it keeps advisors or salespeople doing more profitable tasks.
  • Call-routing capabilities allowing you to control how customer calls are directed so they are answered quickly and by the right person or department. If the call happens to be unanswered, it should be re-routed back to its original source or the receptionist.
  1. What functionality exists between the phone system and my CRM?

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 advertising source of the call to gauge campaign effectiveness.

Also, phone systems that provide inbound and outbound call recording and reporting can help managers track and review calls coming in and out of the dealership to confirm processes are being followed and identify training opportunities.

  1. What type of support and training will I receive with this phone system?

Up to 80 percent of a dealership’s daily business is conducted by phone[1], so reliability is an absolute “must have” of any phone system. Be sure to ask your provider what measures are in place to keep your phone system working in the event your dealership loses power. You’ll also want to know the types of support available (onsite or remote diagnostics) and how quickly support can be reached.

Proper training for you and your staff will help you make the most of your phone system. Ask your system provider about the training you’ll receive before installation and any options for ongoing training.

Answering these questions will help you 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.

[1] Aircall

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Vice President, Reynolds and Reynolds

Jody Huff is the Vice President of Sales Development at Reynolds and Reynolds and has been with the company for over 26 years. Jody’s alma mater is Texas A&M University where he earned a BBA in Marketing.

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