By Steve Johnson
Showroom systems and digital marketing often steal the limelight when discussing the impact of IT on automotive retail, but dealers are increasingly looking to the latest technology to boost efficiency, generate revenue and increase customer retention in the aftersales department.
NEED TO KNOW
♦ Systems ‘must be as customer-centric as possible’
♦ IT is moving away from use merely as an administration tool♦ Single CRM database vital to integrate dealer systems
Systems that allow integrated workshop loading, vehicle health checks (VHCs), courtesy car scheduling and video and telephony management are changing how aftersales departments operate and perform.
David Hawkins, sales director of Loyalty Logistix, said: “The biggest driver to get more IT value has been the move away from using systems as administration tools – invoicing, scheduling and accounting. It’s now more about investing in tools to improve customer retention, customer experience, communication and loyalty.”
Chris Saunders, operations director at BTC, said: “We believe that the key is for IT to be as customer-centric as possible.
“Their expectation is to have a consistent and predictable experience with their dealership. By automating as much as possible, removing paperwork, the risks of error from human interaction can be eliminated.
“To make all this happen needs a single customer relationship management (CRM) database, with seamless interfaces to vehicle manufacturers and third-party service providers.”
Razoom marketing director Alex Knight echoes the need for automated processes: “We develop tools designed to simplify communication between a dealer and customer. We can put the right tools at the fingertips of service advisers to speed up time-consuming jobs that used to sap the department’s efficiency.”
In the longer term, Knight also sees the customer playing a bigger part in aftersales operations.
“Customers will control their bookings, determine the work required and the pricing they are comfortable with,” he said.
“The role of a service adviser will move from being today’s communication hub to more of an advisory capacity – back to what they’re good at.”
Although motor retailers play a role in developing these systems with the automotive IT companies, some dealers can be reluctant to let go of the old way of doing things.
Systems consultant Andrew Weston said: “There appears to be some resistance to letting manual processes go completely, whereas aftersales departments who fully utilise the capabilities of their dealer management systems (DMSs) have greater control and better use of the available resources.