Dealerships would love for their employees to give everything they have in pursuit of company success. In reality, each member of your team has only a limited amount of time, energy, and effort available. It’s important that they spend that that effort working on the important tasks of buying, selling, and servicing vehicles. Unfortunately, unexpected technology challenges sometimes arise, diverting resources toward support calls and other unproductive activities. Dealerships can avoid wasted effort and achieve more success by selecting technology vendors that emphasize speed, efficiency, and training as part of their customer support programs.
Technology companies have always recognized the importance of providing excellent customer and technical support. However, many companies have incorrectly assumed that great support means providing over-the-top, memorable experiences that surprise and delight customers. Author Matthew Dixon challenges this idea in his book, The Effortless Experience. “The role of customer service,” argues Dixon, “is to mitigate disloyalty by reducing customer effort.” In other words, people aren’t hoping to be wowed when they call your support line, they are just hoping to reduce their own effort in the process of solving a problem.
Reducing Effort with Speed
Speed is the first hallmark of excellent technology support. Great providers understand that the best way to reduce effort is solve problems quickly. Fast-acting support reps are always pleasant, but don’t waste a customer’s time with small talk when there is a serious issue to resolve. When problems are solved quickly, your team members can get back to working on their everyday tasks. Not surprisingly, they will also be more satisfied with their customer service experiences.
Reducing Effort with Channel Consolidation
One of the biggest sources of wasted effort in customer service scenarios is channel switching. Channel switching occurs when a customer is required to move from one potential source of help to another. Phone transfers are the most common form of channel switching, but it can occur anytime a customer is asked to switch between different technologies or people. Channel switching creates frustration and increases effort on the part of the customer. To reduce effort, customer service organizations should attempt to resolve customer issues on one single channel. This requires client services reps to be broadly trained, highly knowledgeable, and sufficiently skilled to solve problems on their own.
Reducing Effort with Training
Technology support teams can also reduce effort by providing high-quality product training. Most of the time, customers aren’t calling support teams to report a technology failure. Instead, they are trying to solve a business problem or learn a new process within a program. Great customer support reps also have to be great teachers and trainers capable of thinking critically about dealership challenges. In addition to offering on-the-spot tips, technology companies should provide regular training and proactive performance management.
Training is especially important in the automotive industry because dealerships generally experience high levels of employee turnover in many of their departments. As a result, many employees learn how to use dealership technology systems from their own coworkers. As a result, their product knowledge is limited and they are likely to spend a lot of effort trying to figure things out on their own. Vendor support teams can reduce that effort by functioning as a product training safety net that’s always available.
Reducing Effort with Proactive Problem Solving
Repeat customer calls are common in the world of technology support as customers often solve one problem only to encounter another issue that they couldn’t have anticipated prior to solving the first. These secondary problems are often referred to as adjacent issues and they are a major source of frustration and wasted effort. Client reps can reduce effort and limit the number of repeat calls by considering potential adjacent issues in every customer service interaction. On all service calls, reps should perform a proactive analysis to determine which problems are likely to arise in the future based on the primary problem being solved. In this way, they are solving both current and future issues in a single customer interaction. Another, simpler way to identify adjacent issues is to conclude each call by asking the customer if there is anything else they need help with. This will reduce long-term effort and create a more productive, enjoyable experience.
Customer support teams should be designed to take effort out of a customer’s attempt to resolve problems. By acting quickly and by solving problems efficiently, great support teams help to keep your team’s effort focused on the important tasks of buying, selling, and servicing vehicles. Because the right vendors can reduce effort and promote efficiency in the long run, it’s worth spending a little bit of extra effort upfront to make sure your dealership selects the right technology partners.
Kurt Olnhausen, VP of Operations at Dealertrack DMS, currently oversees the DMS client experience including client services, implementation services and proactive services. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kurt Olnhausen, VP of Operations at Dealertrack DMS, currently oversees the DMS client experience including client services, implementation services and proactive services.