Author: Cory Wright, Director of Training
With the holidays approaching, many reflect on 2019 and how they can make 2020 an even better year. Whenever I purchase gifts for others and add items to my amazon wish list, I always consider the cutting-edge gadgets that can make the following year better. It could be a faster, sleeker laptop, better software, a smarter smartwatch than last year, or any tech item that will help me check off one of my new year’s resolutions.
In business and our personal lives, data collection and analysis are becoming more and more a part of how we make decisions and set goals. So much so that by 2020, there is expected to be 44 trillion gigabytes of data created and available for analysis. This number is expected to grow at a rate of 40% each year!
Data science and machine learning are two of the fastest growing areas of the technology sector that you can begin to leverage to make smarter decisions and monitor those moves.
Here are 5 data-driven technologies you can use to improve your customers’ phone experience:
1. Dynamic Number Insertion (DNI)
As we shift from traditional to digital advertising methods, it can be very difficult for most dealers to directly attribute phone calls, appointments, and sales to that ad spend. Instead, you get metrics that don’t directly correlate to customer action like cost-per-click, bounce rate, and pages per session. As a result, dealers struggle to identify which campaigns and keywords are working to convert customers, and which are absolute duds.
That’s where implementing Dynamic Number Insertion (DNI) becomes a game changer.
DNI technology has been around for years but is now becoming much more popular as improvements and integrations have made it much more user-friendly. Today’s solutions assign every individual consumer accessing your web page a unique number to dial, so you know exactly the online route they took to find you. This information is funneled through Google Analytics for easy review and follow-up action. The phone tracking capabilities even record calls and capture how a call was handled for training opportunities.
This complete campaign visibility cuts through those metrics that don’t directly correlate to customer action so you can understand what’s truly going on and spend your money where it matters most. For example, we know of a dealership that was spending $10,000 per month on Google campaigns. Over that entire ad spend, Google Analytics showed the dealership received over 5,000 clicks, three pages per session, and a total cost-per-click of under $2. Sounds pretty good, right?
A deeper analysis using DNI unveiled that the metrics really matter. It turned out that over 86 percent of all conversions happened in the Google Ads Campaign, centered around dealership general terms, like its name and location. This tells us that consumers were already planning to contact the dealership and essentially using Google as a phone book. Spending on the campaign represented less than 14 percent of that $10,000 total ad spend.
The remaining $8,400 was spent on Google campaigns that ended up returning one phone call, 10 chats, and three completed lead forms. That’s over $600 per conversion…not including the agency fees. With this insight, the dealer shifted its ad spend away from campaigns that were eating money with little return and toward what was working.
Adopting new advertising processes while leveraging DNI can help you do the same. First, set up goals for all the different ways consumers can convert on your website. Second, set up tracking tools such as DNI through Google Analytics. Finally, regularly review and refine your plan.
The data we collect from DNI can also help us better understand the unique path our customers take from researching, calling, to purchasing. As consumers trend towards more B.O.P.I.S (Buy Online Pick-Up in Store) oriented experiences, we can use the data DNI produces to better understand buyer-behavior and streamline our communication and training processes.
Communication is no longer one size fits all. Everyone is communicating differently and in 2020 it will become even more important to provide customers with a seamless, omni-channel communication experience.
Are your toll-free numbers text-enabled? These numbers allow dealers to respond and catalog text conversations with a customer who may not be in a position to call you or simply prefers to communicate via text. Numbers can now be labeled as “call or text” for advertisements and listings on websites like craigslist.com.
Becoming an early adopter in this arena will help you build a treasure trove of text data. You can then utilize this data to sharpen your texting responses and generate more opportunities through better customer experience.3. Call Data CRM Integration and Outbound Click to Call
In 2020, dealerships will inevitably become awash with data. It can be cumbersome switching through multiple different platforms to analyze customer data and extract trends. That’s where integrating call data into your CRM can become an absolute game-changer.
Your CRM data can be utilized as the lifeblood of your dealership if you are pushing quality phone data into it. Often, sales agents neglect to obtain accurate information and manually transfer it into the CRM database. Thus, watering down marketing efforts and future campaign effectiveness.
Luckily, technology can help with that. Inbound call monitoring partners can now create new customers or match new data to existing customers if their services are integrated with your preferred CRM partner.
If you’re already using inbound call monitoring data integration, have you considered the benefits of outbound monitoring? It can often be a struggle to determine just how many calls are being made to customers as well as the quality of those calls.
Recent improvements in machine learning and artificial intelligence have opened the door to advanced outbound monitoring capabilities that span well beyond call duration and how many calls were made. We can now provide data on whether a call was connected, hit voicemail, if an appointment was requested, and if an appointment was set. This can help dealers determine if their outbound call strategy is producing the quality connections required to drive more traffic to your showroom.
4. Advanced Routing Strategies, IVR Optimization, And Your Phone HardwareTo IVR, or not to IVR? That is the question. But first we must understand what an IVR is. IVR stands for Interactive Voice Response. An IVR is intended to streamline phone call routing by using either voice response or keypad input (press 1, 2, or 3) to reach a specific department.
Unfortunately, they are often improperly setup and only lead to greater frustration. For instance, when an IVR is setup that no matter which option you select, you end up reaching a receptionist instead of the department you selected.
Some IVRs are setup with way too many options, leading to confusion and difficulty in the customer remembering. We also see IVRs that are setup without the traditional option of pressing 0 to reach the operator/receptionist. Instead, when pressing 0, the IVR responds that an invalid option has been selected and terminates the call.
IVRs should only take the place of a receptionist when:
- Call volume exceeds the amount which your reception team can reasonably route without keeping customers waiting and ultimately hanging up before they reach a live answer
- Specific departments are cross-trained to perform reception duties if the call they answer is not for them but another person within their department
- The option the caller selects routes directly to someone who can help them the majority of the time
- Selection options are limited to 3-4 departments and those departments are presented from highest call volume to lowest call volume
- Typically, the Service department has the highest volume of inbound calls, so you’d want option 1 to be for Service, option 2 to be for sales, etc.
Next, it’s helpful to analyze your internal phone systems to make sure they are properly setup. If you’re like most dealers, you’ve invested in a high-dollar, advanced phone system that is being drastically underutilized. Today’s phone systems have some awesome features that are often overlooked or have received firmware updates that expand their functionality. We highly recommend looking up your model number and researching via the web and YouTube all the rich routing strategies and truncating setups.
Often, we find that a receptionist may be overwhelmed, and calls go missed because only 1 call can be answered at a time. If you want to fix this problem, experiment with having calls automatically roll-over to another qualified department (BDC/Service) when your main receptionist(s) are assisting other customers.
5. A.I. Anomaly Notifications
If you’re successfully capturing all possible phone data, now it’s time to make the data work for you. That is where machine learning and artificial intelligence (A.I.) are reshaping the way we look at and interact with data.
In previous years, identifying and acting on trends could be a toss up between raking leaves in a tornado and trying to find a needle in a haystack. Chances are, you don’t have that kind of time. Luckily, technology has brought us the ability to proactively analyze connectivity and call-handling performance data for anomalies and notify your team in real-time.
For instance, advanced call monitoring can use algorithms which trigger a notification every time call volume dips below a certain threshold on a particular ad source. If within 2 days you are receiving less volume on a particular line, or more dropped calls than usual, you can now fix problems that weren’t evident until the end of the month when irreparable damage has already been done.
The same type of trend notifications can be setup for a vast array of data points including appointment set, obtained contact information, and customers who are promised a return call.
Technology won’t solve all your problems in your personal life or when it comes to selling more cars at your dealership, but it can certainly help you save time, deals, and improve your customers’ experience.
In 2020, don’t solely rely on the high-level data that conference Guru’s provide you with. It’s way too broad of a brush stroke. Instead, I challenge you to become the “Guru” of your own market space and customer base by leveraging data and tech.