Are all-in-one digital tools right for dealerships?

Posted by Jon Oxtoby on 12-Apr-2021 10:45:00

Many dealerships look for digital tools that can handle a multitude of different tasks in their aftersales department. The simplicity and convenience of this approach are obvious – but is it a mistake?


Who here owns a washer-dryer? If you do – why?

A lot of people would cite the convenience of a washer-dryer compared to having two separate machines. And conversely, a lot of people who don’t have a washer-dryer would point out the drawbacks: they don’t wash or dry clothes as well as dedicated washing machines and dryers.

It’s OK – we don’t have to talk about washing machines any more. But I brought them up because they’re a great example of an approach to technology in car dealerships that should be questioned in 2021.

The decision to go all-in or not

In almost every area of operations, car dealerships are investing in solutions and technology to help them run their business better and more efficiently. The question, to come back my original point, is this: do dealers try and go for a washer-dryer approach, or do they invest in separate tools for separate functions?

The answer for many dealerships has been the former – to try and find all-in-one tools that perform as many functions as possible. This is in large part driven by their DMS. The DMS is of course the central application in any dealership, handling inventory, jobs, and finances among other things. As the need for digital tools in other areas has grown, most DMS have added new functionality to meet that need. The result is that most dealers now have these giant, monolithic technology stacks that handle everything for them, including their customer communications.

"According to Autino research in 2020, nearly 1 in 5 dealerships thought that their DMS was an ineffective communications tool."

Is it still the best choice?

The rationale for sticking with the all-in-one tech solution, especially for dealers, was pretty clear. The DMS is a tool built specifically for garages and car vendors, meaning that its features and functions were in line with what dealerships actually needed compared to other products on the market. However, that may no longer be the case – especially when it comes to areas like customer service.

It seems that customer expectations around how dealerships should communicate with them are increasing, according to research we conducted in 2020. 87% of customers want to be able to communicate with their dealership online, and customers also want to see things such as online booking, and videos of issues and repairs. But dealers report that 82% of service advisors are still communicating with customers over the phone – and crucially, nearly 1 in 5 dealerships thought their DMS was an ineffective communications tool.


The truth is that customer expectations are advancing at a pace that large technology providers can’t match. So what’s a dealership to do?


Related reading:

Solving the constant communication problem

3 ways your service advisors can achieve faster response times

White paper: 3 Reasons To Be Cheerful

Consider well-integrated specialists

If monolithic, all-in-one providers aren’t coming up with the right tools for the job, it makes sense to look around for specialists who can offer better features and functionality.

In recent years, a number of tech providers specialising in the automotive industry have come into existence – not least ourselves. The solutions offered by us and similar vendors, therefore, are ones that are designed with dealerships in mind – and because we’re working in a specific niche (in our case, aftersales communications) we can provide a better product than most DMS providers can on their own.

It’s crucial when looking at these providers that you ask how well they integrate with your existing DMS. After all, your DMS contains a wealth of valuable customer data, and you need it and whatever system you are evaluating to properly connect to each other. Otherwise, your aftersales team may spend all their time switching between systems to help customers, slowing them down and potentially damaging the quality of service they provide.

Angry man on phone to dealership


An investment, but a wise one

It might feel like too much of a bother to look at implementing a new tool in your aftersales department – especially after the year we’ve all had. And there’s no denying that any change takes some time for people to adjust to and embrace. But if those hurdles are putting you off, it’s worth considering the benefits. In the case of CustomerLounge, our aftersales communications tool:

  • One dealership saw their NPS rise by an incredible 40 points after implementing CustomerLounge
  • Another dealer saw inbound calls about service bookings reduce by 31%, with those queries instead being handled via an online chat tool. In total the dealer saved around 20 hours per month.
  • The personalised offers on things like oil top-ups and service plans have earned our dealerships as much as an extra £4,000 per month.

In short, the benefits of adopting the right tools to deal with customers in 2021 far outweigh the costs in time and money. And as dealerships and their customers start to look to a future beyond the pandemic, there’s never been a better time to get ahead of the game.

As 2021 continues, it feels like there’s more cause for optimism than we’ve seen in recent months. Download our white paper, 2021 Dealership Customer Engagement Report to find out what makes your customers tick.

read the whitepaper button 

Topics: customer experience, technology, dealerships, dms, IT, dealer software, automotive, software, CDK Global, service, digitisation

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