Jessica Germain is redefining the “customer experience” at Germain Motor Company and it is paying off in a big way. Year-over-year sales are up, overall profits are up and the group is expanding its footprint with a growth strategy that includes acquiring new dealerships in strategic markets. In this season of record sales and record growth, Jessica Germain and the leadership team at Germain are dialing in profits with a turnkey solution that is boosting close rates and reducing loss by elevating the quality of their relationships – both with their customers and with their employees.
“With vehicles being commoditized, we realized that our greatest area of opportunity was the customer experience” says Jessica Germain, Director of Customer Experience and Employee Engagement for Germain Motor Company. “Success breeds success. Our philosophy is that if we find ways to better engage employees, then their engagement will sell more customers.”
The first step in this process was revamping their HR processes to attract and retain the best possible talent for their dealerships. As part of this process, Germain and her team adjusted compensation plans, beefed up their 401k program and improved their health insurance benefits so that their dealerships would be a magnet for top performers. The next step of this process was fostering a collaborative culture within the dealership group where the leaders from all 12 dealerships are encouraged to celebrate each other’s successes and work together to overcome challenges. This involved the implementation of a company-wide communication strategy as well as the creation of transparent reporting practices so that everyone on the leadership team has real time access to each store’s KPIs.
“We’re not only excited about the prospect of putting our customers in a new or used Hyundai. We’re also excited about keeping them in one,” says Szura.
The third step in this process was implementing a series of safeguard systems so that customer relationships, do not suffer when the dealerships can’t or don’t properly handle sales and service opportunities. In addition to protecting customer relationships these safeguards help to increase the ROI of their marketing dollars by assuring that up to 100% of sales opportunities are accurately tracked and properly logged into their dealership’s CRM systems.
To effectively improve their customer experience, Germain first needed to identify where opportunities were being missed or mishandled. To do this, they focused on the phones. First, phone calls outnumber Internet leads by 6 to 1 so the volume across both sales and service was large enough to have a meaningful impact on their stores. Second, phone calls are two-way communications so monitoring calls from start to finish gives them an accurate snap shot of both sides of the conversation – how the dealership employees are performing as well as how the customer is interacting with the dealership. Lastly, phone calls happen in real time so gaining the ability to detect missed and mishandled opportunities quickly allows them to reengage with customers before revenue is lost and before relationships are damaged.
To capitalize on all of these advantages, Germain partnered with a company that uses live agents to monitor 100% of the numbers used in their sales and service marketing. Up to 30 data points are collected on every call and posted in real time to a mobile-optimized dashboard. This allows Germain to standardize KPIs across all of their locations and gives managers at all 12 stores the ability to measure how they are performing relative to the rest of the group as well as compared to the top 15% of dealerships nationwide. Best of all, they can do all of this at any time directly from their tablets or smart phones.
“My favorite part about this program is how easy it is to drill down through a user-friendly dashboard,” said Germain. “We can look at our entire group, a single store or even a single employee from the same tool. Every employee has a profile that tells us how many calls they took, how many times they asked for the customer’s contact information and how many appointments they set as well as a lot of other data. This allows us to make accurate decisions about whether or not we need more training. Before, we didn’t know how to address this because we had no visibility of how our calls were being handled. Today, we are in a very different place.”
The Right People and Right Technology
The last thing the managers at the Germain Motor Company needed was to be bombarded with data overload. To avoid this, they use a system that categorizes calls into 19 different categories and automatically delivers the right data to the right person at the right time. Managers and senior executives get what they need on a daily, weekly and monthly basis while dedicated first responders get what they need in 30 minutes or less so that they can reengage with customers before opportunities are lost or relationships are damaged.
“Awareness does amazing things because it makes all of us want to get better,” says Germain. “We’re getting double the amount of appointments because fewer customers are falling through the cracks. Not only do we now know where our problems are, we’re also doing what it takes to correct them.” One of the biggest keys to the success of Germain’s “automated awareness” lies in the unique way their dealerships receive alerts. When calls are missed or mishandled a summary of the conversation is sent via text message to first responders along with all of the customer’s contact information, vehicle of interest information, information about the customer’s current vehicle and a “click to call” link that allows them to instantly reconnect with the customer. This allows first responders to act quickly without having to check their email or listen to recordings to find out what actions should be taken.
High Performing Teams
“We don’t strive for perfection,” says Germain. “We strive to take care of our customers quickly and efficiently. They don’t want perfect – they want fast, personal responses. That’s where the opportunity for loyalty arises.”
Even with the best talent and the best training there will always be unexpected variables that cause customers to unintentionally be mishandled. To protect against these situations, Germain has instituted a number of automated safeguards that take over when their sales and service teams can’t or don’t properly manage opportunities. These safeguards save hundreds of sales and service opportunities every month and have had a significant impact on the group’s overall profitability. When phone lines stop working because of network failures or weather conditions, calls are automatically rerouted. When callers get lost in phone trees, get accidentally misdirected and/or get mishandled, text alerts are sent to first responders. When call handlers fail to collect contact information, missing and/or incorrect information is automatically appended. When a salesperson forgets to enter a call into the dealership’s CRM, CallRevu automatically enters it.
In addition to these standard safeguards, Germain’s partnership with CallRevu also allows them to access CallRevu’s state of the art call center when needed. This gives them the ability to have outbound calls performed on their behalf when first responders fail to respond to an alert or when a member of the sales team fails to make the follow up calls listed in their CRM.
The strength of a business always lies in its people — both its customers and its employees. Dealerships that give each of these groups’ reasons to be loyal will reap the benefits and secure long- term growth. By paying attention to both sides of the equation, Germain Motor Company is seeing those benefits in the form of increased staff performance and increased customer satisfaction.
Relationships may be the driver but the results are difficult to ignore. Appointment rates are up, closing rates are up and gross profits continue to improve in both sales and service. “This strategy gives us more than just reports”, says Germain. “It gives us results…”