“There was a big blind spot when it came to finding out about the customer experience,” he said. “No one had ever applied analytics to the service side of the business … and if you’re not measuring the process with something like [the study], the only people who know whether processes work or not are the customers.”
About 13 percent of dealerships included in the study achieved scores higher than 80, which means they’re doing just about everything well. But 20 percent of the dealerships scored below 40, which means they either didn’t provide an easy scheduling process or they drove the customer away, he said.
“If a dealership scores under 40, something is drastically wrong,” O’Hagan said. “Maybe they have a serious staffing problem that forces them to constantly put people on hold for more than two minutes or, even worse, the caller gets lost in a phone tree with no way out, gets a busy signal when transferred to a service adviser or gets a voicemail that says the mailbox is full.
“It’s shocking how often things like this happen.”
Group 1 Automotive posted the highest average score — 65 — across all of its participating dealerships; 27 percent of the nearly 151 stores scored higher than 80. Berkshire Hathaway Automotive (81 stores) ranked second with an average score of 63, and Ken Garff Automotive Group (66 rooftops) was third with an average score of 62. Four other dealership groups followed right behind, with average scores of 61: Ken Ganley Automotive Group (51 stores), Hendrick Automotive Group (three dealerships), Herb Chambers Cos. (60 stores) and Morgan Auto Group (62 dealerships).
When ranked by brand, the three highest-scoring were Acura, Lexus and Toyota.
The bottom three were Land Rover, Hyundai and Jeep, according to the study.
“The results tell me that some dealerships did a great job of interacting with customers who tried to schedule service, while others did not and clearly need to improve,” O’Hagan said. “What we know from defining and measuring auto dealer processes for quite a while is that all dealers need to pay close attention — measure and track data.”
What surprised O’Hagan most about the survey results? The wide gap between dealerships, he said.
“We might assume that all of these large, successful companies would operate very similarly,” he said. “But there are some big differences.”
O’Hagan said employees can build customer loyalty by injecting some pertinent talking points that reinforce the caller made a good choice by opting to come to the dealership. For example, they could talk about positives such as the availability of loaner vehicles or Uber or shuttle rides. Perhaps the dealership offers free vehicle pickup and delivery, is a family-owned business or has certified master technicians.
“It works like magic — those same points are what those customers then regurgitate to other people,” O’Hagan said. “It’s worth taking the trouble to reinforce all the positive reasons to patronize your dealership.”