After-Sales at the service of the Customer Relationship in the Automotive Industry

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With the emergence of new services and players (car centres, online trade-in, etc.), driver loyalty at the point of sale is no longer what it used to be. However, driver loyalty is crucial to ensure that they buy their future vehicle there. Under these conditions, the After-sales activity seems more essential than ever, with the aim of fostering good customer relations and avoiding buyer volatility.

After-sales, a value-generating activity

For a long time, dealerships mainly focused on their core business: New Vehicles (NVs) and Used Vehicles (UVs). After-sales has been somewhat sidelined, often considered less profitable. As a direct consequence, the attachment of motorists to a point of sale gradually eroded as other after-sales solutions developed. As a result, it is not uncommon for individuals to turn away from the brand’s network once the vehicle’s warranty has expired. This is a a problematic situation since a motorist who goes elsewhere is a motorist who might not buy his next vehicle at the dealership.

Did you know? The average value of a car customer is €41,000 and does not consist only of the purchase of the vehicle. Moreover, it is accepted that the After-sales service generates more margin for the dealership than NVs. To be aware of this is to take a first step in trying to maintain driver loyalty at the point of sale. Yes, but how? Two axes would seem to be crucial: improve the quality of the After-sales service (offers, prices, advice, etc.) and reinvent customer relations, notably by relying on customer relationship management (CRM) solutions.

The database: a tool at the service of the Customer Relationship

If there are ground to believe that CRM can give a lease of life to the customer relationships in dealerships, it’s for one simple reason: points of sale now have a wealth of information waiting to be used. As long as the data in the database is of good quality, and the leads are qualified, a dealer can now know almost everything about the buyers. The goal? Push out, to customers, the right offer, at the right time and at the right price. Let’s take the example of a vehicle whose service date is fast approaching. Thanks to its DMS (integrated management software package), the dealership is informed and can automate the sending of an e-mail or SMS reminder at the appropriate time, as well as facilitate appointment scheduling. In addition to accelerating the sales cycle, this limits the risk of the motorist going elsewhere.

To avail of of this opportunity however, a number of measures must be undertaken: Deduplicate customer files, fill in all the information in the database (purchases, reminders, visits, etc.) and automate the management and analysis of information.   The objective is twofold: ensure optimal customer follow-up and set up tailored direct marketing plans. If good customer relationship management is now essential, it is also because the role of the dealership is no longer what it used to be. The proof is that, on average, motorists now make only one to three visits to a dealership before buying; indeed, they often know what they want before stepping foot inside the dealership. Since it can no longer set itself off by providing expertise – customers now rely mainly on their online searches – the dealer must instead offer high-quality after-sales service in order to encourage the next purchase within the dealership. And that’s where CRM strategy comes in – it allows you to be present at every point of contact: from research to the purchase of a new vehicle.

The man-machine complementarity, essential to the after-sales activity.

However, it would be wrong to think that a CRM tool alone can manage customer relations. Although CRM simplifies customer management, human intervention remains indispensable. What’s at stake? This is because dealerships capitalize on the information provided by the software solutions in order to take the appropriate action. It is therefore important to mobilize the sales force around a simple observed fact: just as is the case with NV and UV, the after-sales service is an important driver of revenue and customer loyalty. As proof, just consider the following: it is not uncommon for the implementation of a CRM solution to increase business by 20 to 30%, provided it is properly used.

But here’s the rub: a mechanic or a salesman is not a computer expert, nor even a marketing expert. The objective is therefore that the tools put in place should be easy to use so that most employees can capitalize on them. While large automobile dealership networks generally have the human resources capable of running a CRM, this is not the case for independent networks or small workshops. That’s why developers are constantly refining their software to make it easy to use, ergonomic and intuitive. It is also for this reason that a maximum number of basic tasks are now automated (sorting data, sending reminders, cross-checking information, etc.) and that the solutions allow the management of the entire dealership’s activity: from the after-sales service to invoicing, marketing and communication. And always with the same promise: stay simple to be effective.

Capitalising on After-sales with CRM 360

Since After-sales is now the key to growing dealership business, DATAFIRST has imagined a tailor-made customer relationship management solution: CRM 360. Built around a unique customer database that can be controlled from DataCar DMS, this tool gives dealerships a 360° view of its customers and products, in order to optimize its marketing campaigns. With many advantages:
– a tool that can be easily used by salespeople;
– enhanced conversion of leads;
– better management of the UV activity;
– vehicle recognition by number plate;
– a simplification of the UV trade-ins at the right price.

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