One of the biggest hurdles dealerships face when attempting to create a personalized experience for every customer is breaking down their data silos. Data silos are common in virtually every auto dealership today. They occur when information is accessible only to certain employees or only within one technology application. While many leading, non-automotive retailers have spent the last couple of decades integrating disparate systems to improve their customer experience, many dealers have fallen behind. Driven by the allure of small, startup tech companies, they put too much focus on continually adding non-integrated technologies that typically over-promise and under-deliver. As a result, dealers are facing the harsh reality of a significant digital-experience gap. We covered this––as well as the solutions––in our recent Mind the Service Experience Gap white paper.
Not only do data silos make big-picture decisions––like which customers to target to grow your business––harder, they can negatively impact individual customer interactions in the showroom and on the service drive, leading to poor online reviews and risking the alienation of new customers. So it makes sense that eliminating data silos can increase your customer experience, CSI, and even your store’s revenue. And luckily, there’s a fix.
The Low-Down on Silos
The most noticeable data silo for dealerships is online data collection. All too often, when customers submit a lead form, schedule a service visit on your website, or value their trade online, their data gets buried in a single application managed by one of your vendors. Unfortunately, this crucial customer data is not typically shared with any of your other systems. Then, when those customers come in for their test drive or service appointment, the dealer associate assisting them has an incomplete picture of the customer or their vehicle. The unsurprising results are a sub-standard experience for the customer and missed revenue opportunities for the dealership.
Worse yet, the next time a customer makes a transaction online, the website doesn’t recognize them. They are then forced to provide the same information with every visit. Obviously, this practice is a problem and alienates customers as soon as the interaction starts. Every additional hurdle you create for a customer––an extra keystroke, tap, or click––leads to more frustration and abandoned transactions. And yet this situation occurs every day, resulting in lost sales and missed service revenue. That’s why it is so important to consolidate your vendors and centralize your customer data in one system. You also need to employ smart systems that continually recognize customers and eliminate unnecessary effort on their part.
One Customer, Fragmented Information
The best case scenario involving data silos is that all your customer information exists somewhere, scattered in the different applications used throughout your dealership. But unfortunately, “best case” doesn’t always equal “best practice.”
This kind of “data disconnect” can affect everything from sales interactions to marketing communications. In fact, a 2019 survey of 1,000 customers by AutoLoop found that 88% of customers value a personalized experience when visiting a dealership. If your customer information is siloed into different platforms and products, however, that crucial personalization data may be inaccessible or incomplete.
Say “So Long” to Data Silos
The immediate effects of eliminating your data silos include higher CSI scores, trust, and transparency and a significant lift in repeat business. And in the long run, it adds up to a lasting positive impact on your dealership’s revenue and profitability.
The solution is clear: integrate your data to enable a smarter customer experience. Your store might have the best individual technologies in the world, but if they don’t work together, they’re not much use at all. That’s why the best strategy for eliminating data silos is to adopt a seamlessly integrated sales and service solution. The ideal platform will do more than share valuable information across applications. It will also use the information intelligently, saving customers and employees time and effort.
Any sales or service professional knows the importance of a flawless first impression. Eliminating data silos in favor of a smart, integrated approach can upgrade that first interaction from “Hi, how can I help you today?” to “Hi, Bill, let’s test drive that F-150 Platinum you’re interested in” or “Hi, Diane, do you want to book your next service appointment at your usual time on Monday morning?”
Doug Van Sach
VP of Strategy & Analytics
Sales | March 28, 2021