McKenna Cars is part of a proud tradition in the automobile industry that’s been serving drivers throughout Southern California since the early 1950s. Since then, McKenna Cars has grown into one of the largest and most successful family-owned automotive groups in the US.
Like other dealers, the group was experiencing unprecedented staffing challenges and struggling to find quality, qualified employees to staff their centralized BDC. To combat the talent shortage and ensure they weren’t missing any inbound service appointment opportunities, McKenna turned to technology in the form of a Digital Voice Assistant (DVA) and launched Brooke.ai.
Powered by Proactive Dealer Solutions, Brooke.ai is automotive’s first Digital Voice Assistant to answer, handle, and appoint inbound service calls for dealers. Brooke handles any call volume 24/7/365, meaning absolutely no service calls go unanswered.
Call data indicates that new and retained customers call service departments twenty times for every one call to the sales department. Unfortunately, more than 30 percent of those inbound calls are abandoned on hold, misrouted, or missed altogether.
McKenna Cars has been partnering with Proactive Dealer Solutions since 2019 to improve operations within their centralized service BDC. "We already knew that we were missing calls in service. We were already looking for a solution to build or buy that would help us fix this struggle for our customer. We built a BDC, we brought in training, we did everything we knew how to do,” commented Greg Stolrow, CFO of the auto group. “Then came the pandemic. Many of our stores saw call failure rates soar during and still after the pandemic. Our staffing struggles during and since COVID shutdowns meant less bodies to answer the phones," added Stolrow.Talent gaps are a huge concern as consumer expectations continue to rise. "The truth is, we’ve always struggled with staffing BDCs and call centers. This issue was just exacerbated with the pandemic," stated Alexandra Issacharoff, BDC Manager for McKenna. "My struggles have been two-fold. Finding people is hard enough. But finding the right people is even tougher. Booking appointments has become more complex, soft skills and customer experience are more important than ever, and we’re asking entry-level agents to rise to a new occasion in today’s competitive marketplace." Issacharoff commented.
Historically, customers have expected the basics, like competitive pricing and pleasant interactions — but today’s consumer has much higher expectations. Globally, 54% of all consumers say that they have higher customer service expectations than they did just one year ago (microsoft). When it comes to service scheduling, the number of calls is increasing, not decreasing. Even though online scheduling tools were originally built for customers to self-schedule an appointment on a dealer’s website, the majority of customers still prefer to call the service department.
This presents an opportunity because typically 75 percent of those calls are FAQs, routine requests, and non-technical questions. By turning these calls over to Brooke.ai, she eases the burden on teams and reduces average handling time by providing the right experience at the very first call. Brooke.ai interacts with callers as a human would due to conversational capabilities. Built on millions of actual service calls and backed by behind-the-scenes human assistance, Brooke.ai understands requests in the various ways that they are asked and responds without using a script, creating a natural, friendly conversation.
Brooke can take a caller from “I need to schedule an appointment” to properly identify opcodes, offering available appointment times, discussing transportation options, and scheduling the appointment, and even offer up confirmation texts. She can handle all service calls for dealers, transferring calls when human intervention is necessary. Or dealers can choose a human-first approach, with calls routing to Brooke after hours and when nobody is available to answer the call - a far more customer-centric approach than to a voicemail box where calls may or may not receive a return call. This approach is exactly what Brooke.ai delivered for McKenna Cars. Brooke was onboarded to handle only overflow and after hours calls for the centralized service BDC.
Within a short time, it was clear that Brooke was going to maximize those call opportunities, generating more than 840 appointments in the first month, with a realized revenue value of 532.9 thousand dollars.
“We put Brooke in place to handle calls that we would otherwise miss for the 8 stores in our group, most of which are highline stores. Our initial concern was that the expectation of our shopper demographic would not align with scheduling a service appointment through Brooke. This didn’t prove to be the case for us." Stated Stolrow. “Now that we are staffing up, Brooke will continue to prove her value in freeing up our BDC team for outbound activities to continue to fill our bays and secure our corner of the market.”
Stay tuned for a continuation of this study: The Case for Culture Change: How a Digital Voice Assistant can Help Make Your BDC an Outbound Engine for Revenue Growth.