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The Case for a Digital Voice Assistant in Your Service Department

The Case for a Digital Voice Assistant in Your Service Department
September 28, 2021

The challenges of hiring and retaining employees continue in our industry. This is backed up by The State of Dealership Staffing report recently released by Cox Automotive. It revealed that 72 percent of franchised dealers say finding and hiring the right employees is a challenge.

I would argue this ongoing challenge is butting up against another market factor: automaker partners encouraging dealers to look to service to help make up revenue lost due to lack of new inventory caused by the continuing microchip shortage.

Consequently, according to the Cox study, one of the top roles dealers plan to grow is that of the BDC Specialist. In fact, 41 percent of “heavy digital dealers” (those who outsource 3+ digital retailing activities) plan to grow the BDC role.

Adding BDC agents – especially to answer inbound service calls – seems like a no-brainer. After all, currently up to 30 percent of the average dealership’s inbound calls to service go unanswered. And studies show 68 percent of those failed calls never call back. They move on to the next shop served up by Google.

However, adding the “two-legged expense” is unlikely to solve the problem. People don’t grow up saying they want to work in a call center. It’s a stepping stone to something better. For that reason, and the relatively low pay, hiring and retaining agents is extremely difficult and often an HR nightmare with a lot of tardiness, sick days, and compliance issues.

That’s where a Digital Voice Assistant (DVA) comes in. Today’s DVAs function and sound just like humans. To the millions of people who use Alexa or Google Home, having a DVA answer service calls and set appointments will feel very familiar.

A DVA connects the problem of missed calls, and the staffing challenges that commonly cause the problem, with an affordable and efficient solution that never calls in sick, answers every call consistently and efficiently, captures contact information, always asks for the appointment, and never expects an appointment bonus.

When tied into your online scheduling tool and DMS, a DVA can set a service appointment in about three minutes. A human takes around double that time. A DVA also handles routine FAQ calls, such as shop hours and location, which can take up to one-third of a BDC agent’s time during a shift. Allowing a DVA to handle those calls frees BDC agents to focus on revenue-producing outbound calls that make everyone more money.

To be sure, a DVA will also save on hiring and training costs. Consider the hiring process – from placing ads to conducting interviews – and how much time and effort that takes. Then there’s all the training. From software, to dealership culture, to soft skills like active listening and proper communication, it’s a 5 to 6 month dance to get an agent up to speed and producing revenue. A DVA can be up and running and delivering a great experience in a matter of hours – while cutting overhead and growing revenue. The popularity of personal DVAs proves your customers are ready for it. We should be too.

Lawson Owen is the founder and CEO at Proactive Dealer Solutions. He is a thought leader in lead and process management and has been inspiring management teams for over 20 years. Lawson has helped to implement more than 4,000 business development centers throughout the US and Canada.