Integration, Integration, Integration
Just like the real estate maxim “location, location, location,” the key element for effective CRM at a dealership is integration, integration, integration. Today’s technology platforms offer so many different features, it can be confusing at best and intimidating at worst to make sense of it all.
Without seamless integration — products that talk to each other, share data in a common format, and produce actionable reporting — a dealership is left to cobble it all together, likely resulting in missed revenue opportunities.
Luckily, there are technology platforms available that are designed and coded from the ground up to ensure complete integration across all areas of a dealership, including sales, service, marketing, and customer service.
The Ripple Effect
The goal with any CRM should be to create a better user experience for dealership employees. This leads to a better consumer experience that not only meets expectations, but also boosts loyalty and increases transactions. It’s a ripple effect: the easier it is for staff to use the CRM, the more customers get entered, marketing becomes more effective, and the dealer secures more revenue.
One early complaint about CRM systems was their complexity. Vendors threw everything and the kitchen sink into their platforms because they weren’t entirely sure what dealers really needed or wanted. Through aggressive surveying and outreach, DealerSocket has identified the core product requirements and made them visible and easily accessible. As a result, our CRM technology has evolved by doing away with unnecessary bells and whistles while including more sophisticated back-end tools that enable maximum engagement.
Today’s CRM Platform
Dealers either looking to acquire a CRM tool or considering a change should consider a few essentials, including:
- The CRM must consolidate and organize all dealer interactions with a customer in a single and simple interface. This approach ensures that you contact the customer at the right time with the right message based on his or her history.
With the overwhelming number of tools required to run a modern store, dealers are finding it increasingly difficult to manage their business using disparate systems for each department. System integration has a dramatic effect in alleviating this frustration.
- The CRM must have an open architecture in order to support integrations with other disparate systems such as DMS, website, inventory management, call center, call providers, lead providers, and most importantly, the OEMs.
Historically, manufacturers have been unable to directly connect their programs with the outcome of leads presented to the dealer. A good CRM can report this data back to the OEMs to help close the loop, providing customers easier access to convenient information such as special incentives, recall information, and loyalty programs.
- It’s critical that the CRM system directly connect with the dealer’s website to close the gap between the consumer’s online and in-store experiences. The most comprehensive solutions will come from CRM companies that also have a good website product as well. The integration between functional areas of the dealership must be clean, ensuring that data gathered in one area (e.g., VDPs) is transferred effectively to ensure system-wide visibility.
Use It Or Lose It
As technology advances, dealers who do not adopt and aggressively utilize integrated technologies are at significant risk. As progressive, forward-thinking dealers benefit from the operational efficiencies and the improved customer experiences provided by a modern CRM, resistant dealers will fall behind.
DealerSocket has completed a series of user surveys and testing that shows usability as a key factor in end-user adoption. These learnings have been applied to a new technology platform that will launch later this year, making CRM systems more user-friendly by updating their user interfaces and process workflows.
The CRM system must be less informational and more actionable. As previously mentioned, CRMs historically have been very good at pushing a lot of new data and alerts to users and managers at the dealership. Dealerships have used this information to improve their business, but with the now-overwhelming amount of data available, CRMs need to be more prescriptive in telling end users and owners/managers what to do. Each recommendation should come with a dollar-based ROI attached based on historical data at the dealer’s store or what others dealers are experiencing. Otherwise, users will have nothing more than a flood of unusable information that does not lead to any revenue-generating activity.
Technology can be a great differentiator, but it also can be a source of frustration if it is not effectively integrated across dealer silos. DealerSocket has focused on integration from the very beginning, seeking input from dealers to determine product and platform improvements that will enhance the buyer experience. This focused commitment has led to a best-in-class CRM that addresses the needs of the modern dealer and produces actionable insights that result in demonstrably greater revenue, profitability, customer retention, and overall success.