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Dealership Newsmaker Q&A Mike Martinez

Thursday, March 19, 2015 - 07:00
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Automotive marketing firm DMEautomotive has released an analysis of overflow and after-hours service calls at 172 dealerships that found service departments were missing out on significant customer opportunities by mishandling these calls.

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Mike Martinez, chief marketing officer at DMEautomotive, spoke with Aftermarket Business World about the findings.

What is the cost of these unaddressed overflow or after-hours calls?

First of all there is a straightforward loss of revenue when these calls are not answered. One out of two of those callers will go book service somewhere else. The second issue that 70 percent of these calls are from what we call swing loyalists, customers that can potentially be turned into loyal customers and drive a disproportionate amount of profitability.

How are service departments mishandling these calls?

The customer calls the dealership after hours and either gets a message that the dealer is closed, or they go into a generic voicemail system, which never generates a response. It's a dead end. Or they're calling in during business hours and the call goes unanswered because the staff is busy. Dealers need a way of handling these overflow and after-hours calls.

Are there best practices you've seen at dealers that are doing a good job of handling these calls?

The first best practice is to simply have an after-hours and overflow call service in place so that every single one of those phone calls is answered and handled, even if it's by a call center that isn't at the store. You can have a team behind you that only costs you money when your own team can take phone calls, and they make sure 100 percent of those calls is handled 100 percent of the time.

Beyond that, you want to have good call monitoring and recording available so that as calls come in, you can spot check how your employees are handling them. You want to respond to calls and log them into the customer relationship management or dealer management system.

If you have call recording, just listening to a few calls is going to get managers upset during the analysis. More often than not, the call is not handled well. If someone calls and asks if you have Sunday hours, and the person answering the phone just says "no" and hangs up, you just lost a potential customer. 

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