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Give Your CRM Good Data for More Profitable Customer Connections

One constant message we send to our customers is that your CRM is only as good as the data entered in it. The way data is captured, managed and utilized in the CRM is the key to customer acquisition and retention.

Now, some dealers may think that advertising is the most effective way to reach customers. But advertising can get expensive quickly, and it’s difficult to know whether you’re even reaching your intended audience. So, why aren’t dealers focusing on utilizing their CRMs to generate more business from your known customer base? The answer likely lies in the fact that not enough sufficient data is being captured for the CRM to be effective.

Resolving Issues
The only way you can utilize your customer information is if your salespeople are up to speed on the CRM. If they do not know how to use the CRM, it is time to kick your training efforts into high gear. Training conducted at the dealership and online, along with having go-to staff members who can serve as your CRM advocates, will help your employees get up to speed quickly.

The more difficult roadblock you may encounter is employees refusing to adopt your CRM system. To fix that issue, you must stop the usage of any other customer capture systems and adopt a culture of, “If it is not in the CRM, it did not happen.” In addition, reinforcing the individual, role-specific benefits of CRM usage (increased sales, saved time) will lead your resistant employees to jump onboard.

Capturing Interactions
To create a database that is truly useful to your dealership, you must record every interaction with a customer into the CRM. Poor usage leads to missing customers and/or missed contact information. The data can’t help you if it is entered incorrectly or isn’t entered at all.

There are many reasons why data may not be captured accurately or often enough, including turnover, hardware limitations and low overall CRM utilization. The most troubling reason, though, is that staff do not see the value of the system. If this is the case, you have to show your salespeople the positive impact a CRM system can have on their customer interactions, sales and bottom line. Appointing a highly visible and well respected CRM advocate and creating recognition programs for stellar CRM usage and results are great ways to motivate the entire team.

The culture at the dealership needs to change from the inside out and the top down, with managers and staff understanding the importance of capturing customer information and, ultimately, the cost savings and revenue potential associated with it. Managers have to hold their salespeople accountable for entering the data and hold themselves accountable for verifying that it is being captured.

Utilizing Your Data
Once you have gone through the roadblocks and created a culture where the CRM is used for each customer interaction, what can you do with all the information you have acquired?

On the customer side, you can go beyond “Hello, First Name,” and start running campaigns that show you know your audience. Monitor sales customers who have never set foot in your service bay, and send them a quick hello and service coupon. On the flip side, take advantage of inbound service appointment data to create opportunities. If customers have serviced but never purchased, assess their trade and give them a compelling offer while they’re in your waiting room.

On your staffing side, the data and conversations entered in your system can help you prospect for salespeople and managers. The data can help you identify the rock stars who can take your dealership to the next level.

Action Plan
When it comes to data in the CRM, it’s important to remember the following three steps – capture, manage and utilize. In capturing data, train your team properly and look for areas where there may be poor data capture. When managing the data, track everyone’s progress and what is being captured, and address problems promptly. In utilizing it, sharpen your targeted campaigns and make your customer interactions more personal.

Data by itself isn’t inherently valuable – it’s how you use it that makes it worth something. Gather your sales managers, service managers and BDC managers to create a plan for using the information you’re entering into the CRM, then review your success regularly and adjust.

Mastering your CRM’s data will create closer customer connections that grow your business and make your dealership better.

A version of this post originally appeared in AutoSuccess.

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Mark Vickery

Senior Director, Performance Management

Mark joined VinSolutions in 2013 as Director of Performance Management, after serving as one of the early Performance Managers at sister company vAuto. Charged with implementing a true account management department, Mark has grown VinSolutions’ Performance Management department from approximately 30 people in 2013 to more than 80. Mark brings a strong background in the retail car business with a focus on customer retention and leading and establishing teams.

Connect with Mark Vickery on Linkedin or shoot them a note.

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