Nearly 7 in 10 (69%) of companies have reported talent shortages and difficulty hiring – a 15-year high. Dealers across the country are struggling to find qualified employees and yet during these times of rapid transformation and uncertainty, the demand for soft skills is more important than ever. Fortunately, modern technology can ease the burden on teams, streamline operations, and reduce staffing needs. Automation for functions such as scheduling, frequently asked questions, and simple caller requests meet consumer preferences and help automotive service departments cope with staffing shortages and sharp increases in customer demand. These factors are among the reasons why New Country Auto Group agreed to join a pilot program with Proactive Dealer Solutions to beta test Brooke.ai., their newly released digital voice assistant.
New Country is one of the largest independent auto groups in the country with 26 stores and service centers in four states in the Northeast and Florida. Like other dealers, the group is experiencing unprecedented staffing challenges and struggling to find qualified employees. Brooke.ai provides a seamless customer experience using automated voice technology and reduces the number of inbound calls that employees need to handle in the process. Brooke ensures every inbound service call is promptly answered, handled, and appointed every time the phone rings. New Country piloted Brooke in three of its stores, letting her handle after-hours and overflow calls. As a result, the service departments in the three pilot stores had less missed inbound opportunities, reduced staffing needs, and a better overall caller experience.
BROOKE.AI BRINGS MORE EFFICIENCY TO CURRENT WORKFLOWS
New Country has been partnering with Proactive Dealer Solutions since 2020 to improve operations within their centralized service BDC. Brooke.ai.ai was a valuable addition to their store’s existing workflows, improving the efficiency of appointment scheduling, and maximizing inbound opportunities.
“Even the best of BDCs can fall short during peak times, when we traditionally see call failure rates increase. Additionally, we were having significant issues with staffing and shortage of employees,” said Brian Milleman, New Country Motor Group V.P. of Aftersales. “We are transforming the way our BDC handles inbound calls that will enable cost reduction and conduct more value-packed outbound opportunities to drive our service capacities” Mileman added.
REDUCING FAILED CALLS AND HANDLING TIME WITH AI-POWER
Call data shows that new and retained customers call service departments 20 times for every 1 call to sales departments. Unfortunately, more than 30 percent of those inbound calls are abandoned on hold, misrouted, or missed altogether.
When a customer cannot connect with a service department, up to 68 percent move on to the next dealer Google serves up. New Country was able to dramatically decrease missed opportunities using Brooke to navigate between the pilot stores within the centralized BDC and adhere to their scheduling and transportation policies while handling calls successfully, saving customer relationships and retaining revenue.
“Would you rather have your customers that call in have an opportunity to be taken care of and book an appointment with a virtual assistant, or just go to a voicemail that potentially nobody checks? This is an opportunity to catch what we’re not able to right now - especially without the bodies to take care of the phones,” Milleman stated.
Not only did Brooke catch the overflow calls that New Country’s BDC wasn’t able to, but she did so in record time. While most service BDCs struggle to complete an appointment call in less than 6 minutes, Brooke averages 2.5 minutes from first ring to complete wrap-up.
BROOKE.AI PROVIDES THE EXPERIENCE THAT CALLERS WANT
Today’s consumers want convenient solutions. The pandemic accelerated technology adoption across all ages and demographics. Amazon’s profits increased almost 200% during the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic as more people than ever shopped online in search of ease and accessibility.
“With the addition of Brooke, our leadership team recognized a strategic opportunity to determine how the Digital Voice Assistant technology can innovate our customer experience.” Milleman stated.
New Country understands that the quality of their callers’ experience was the way to win in today’s competitive landscape, and Brooke rose to the challenge. Unlike automated menu systems that have routing issues and long hold times which sink the customer experience, Brooke interacts like a human with the capability to understand and engage in friendly, helpful dialogue. Built-in conversational capabilities also allow Brooke to interact with customers without ever using a script, creating a more natural conversation. The digital voice assistant recognizes returning customers and greets them by name. She also welcomes new customers, obtains necessary personal information, and properly identifies the reason for a call. For example, when a customer expresses concern about leaking fluids, Brooke recognizes the need for diagnostic services and converses with the caller to determine how to best serve them.
“When considering the beta program, we knew we were going to gain from this more than we were going to lose. You get consistency with Brooke in tone, demeanor, and how calls are handled,” said Milleman.
Using Natural Language Understanding, Brooke understands callers making appointment requests in the natural ways they ask. For example, a customer calls and asks, “Do you have anything open for an oil change next Friday at noon?” Brooke understands the customer’s request for next Friday at 12pm and from there, checks availability to schedule the service.
Brian noted that Brooke was dependable and consistent. Obviously, Brooke never calls out sick or has a bad day, rather she outperforms dealership employees in the number of calls she can handle and in the accuracy of those calls. Brooke is clearly a timely solution to a national staffing shortage in a post-COVID marketplace.
ONBOARDING A DIGITAL VOICE ASSISTANT
“Her integration with our scheduling tool is a key component in efficiency” stated Milleman. This integration meant the ability to handle appointable calls more effectively and efficiently than humans by gathering as many service calls as possible, providing feedback on issues and needed improvements, and determining the performance level and value-add to the dealership.
Integration also uncovered areas of opportunity where further development and adjustments needed to be made. With a properly prepared scheduling tool, Brooke can be onboarded virtually overnight without error. However, the beta program exposed that New Country’s scheduling parameters and transportation offerings were poorly configured. This gave them the data necessary to adjust their scheduling tool and properly meet minimum labor requirements and maximum mileage distance, while avoiding future scheduling mistakes.
ACCELERATING VOICE TECHNOLOGY ADOPTION IN DEALERSHIPS
During the pandemic, dealerships struggled to quickly pivot operations and create new protocols for safety. Now the need to adapt is here again to meet the changing needs and expectations of both their customers and team members. Amid such industry disruption, Brooke showed that enabling voice technology allows dealers such as New Country to provide a consistent and dependable experience.
The Brooke Beta Testing Program was also designed to gather insights into the adoption of automated voice technology in the automotive industry. The industry continues to implement automation on dealership websites via scheduling portals, chatbots, and most recently, digital retailing tools. Yet, for service departments, less than 10 percent of repair orders come from text, chat, and online service scheduling. The bulk are from inbound calls or walk-ins, making voice technology an obvious solution for automotive dealerships. Voice technology in other industries has already become widely adopted. In 2020 alone, Speechmatics reported an 18 percent increase and revealed that adoption of the Digital Voice Assistant had a positive impact on customer experience during COVID-19. With the right technology in place, today’s dealerships can increase their team’s productivity, streamline the caller experience, and increase the service department’s profitability.
Brooke is the first Digital Voice Assistant who can answer, handle, and appoint inbound service calls for dealers. The Brooke Beta Testing Program was evidence that the accuracy and scalability of this new software, built on millions of actual service department calls was successful and performed in line with Proactive Dealer Solutions’ vision. Commenting further on the success of Brooke.ai in his dealerships, Milleman stated, “It’s been a pleasant surprise to see how well it has performed.”
Brooke.ai is scheduled to go to market in the coming months, thanks to the partnerships and participation of New Country and others in the beta program.
Visit Brooke.ai to find out more about how she can help your dealership.