[Posted November 5th, 2014 by Keith Shetterly]
In a fiercely competitive industry such as automotive sales, dealerships are always looking for ways to push more car units—and, by extension, generate more revenue. To this end, dealerships create a call center where they employ customer service representatives to interact with potential and current customers. Such a call center is referred to as an automotive “Business Development Center,” or dealership BDC.
A dealership BDC is usually an in-house establishment. The call center is traditionally in the dealership building, away from the showroom and other departments. However, some dealerships outsource some of their BDC tasks—such as payroll, follow-up calls, and training of new staff—to professional call centers. In a few instances, the dealership completely outsources its BDC functions to call-center firms. Although BDCs can be found in other industries as well, it is most commonly associated with the automotive sales sector. People who work in the BDC are referred to as BDC representatives. They are responsible for sales and service at every customer touch-point, and they rely on customer relationship management (CRM) software installed on their computer systems.
Dealership BDCs are best known for being the first points of contact for customers. Usually this happens when customers send an email to the dealership indicating their interest in a certain vehicle. When the CRM system notifies the BDC rep, he or she sends an email or makes a phone call to confirm and follow up on the inquiry. Since most people start their vehicle search online these days, and the automotive sales industry is very competitive, the speed and efficiency at which the BDC center responds to inquiries can greatly determine the possibility of a sale. BDC reps should be trained on how to greet customers, answer questions, overcome objections, set appointments for sales associates, and follow up on missed or unsold appointments.
Servicing and Conversion
Helping sales associates is not the only way dealership BDCs can increase revenue. In addition to the Sales department, dealerships have a Service department for vehicle maintenance and repairs. The BDC can increase service sales by sending out reminders on essential maintenance duties, such as oil changes and tire and brake pad replacements. Such an opportunity can be used to show the advantages of trading a car for a new or certified pre-owned (CPO) one; benefits include more technologically advanced features, warranty upgrades, and cost-of-ownership savings. This is especially helpful for BDC reps who want to convert people who only visit the dealership for maintenance and repairs into people who buy their next vehicles from the place. The vehicle exchange program can also get repeat sales out people who have frequented the dealership for years and years.
Dealership BDCs play a crucial role in boosting the dealership’s customer satisfaction index and service satisfaction index, known as CSI and SSI, respectively. BDC reps can escalate customer issues to the appropriate department, directly address basic concerns and inquiries, and send thank-you emails for buying or servicing a vehicle. These functions enable customers to send feedback through CSI and SSI scores and feedback. CSI and SSI surveys have always been an essential part of dealerships, since the growth of their businesses depends on how satisfied the customers are with the type of service they received.