With the rise of the Internet, many dealerships have launched Business Development Centers, or BDCs, and charged those teams with the mission of converting online leads and other inbound sales opportunities into sales – with varying levels of success. Dealers looking to launch a BDC or get more out of their existing operation should consider whether they have the tools and team in place to effectively integrate the BDC into their dealership’s customer experience strategy. Here, dealers will learn:
Just as with every other connection a dealership has with potential or current customers, a BDC’s long-term value depends on its ability to contribute to a comprehensive customer experience (CX) strategy. Over time, excellent CX builds loyalty, increases return business and decreases the dealership’s cost to make a sale.
As potentially the first interaction between a prospective customer and a human being at a dealership, a BDC representative can play an outsized role in setting the tone for a customer’s experience. To maximize effectiveness, BDC management must focus on providing their BDC staff with access to as much information and insight as possible about their prospects. Managers also must ensure the customer’s interaction with the BDC is a seamless component of overall customer experience by making it an integrated – and not isolated – part of the larger dealership team.
Some BDC teams are new, while others are updated models of traditional customer service center functions. In either case, they need to be managed against metrics that track not just immediate sales-related figures such as sales appointments scheduled, but also relationship-building concepts such as whether the prospect continues to interact with the dealership in some way even if they’re not ready for a sales appointment, or if they are able to successfully answer a customer’s question in a way that leads to continued shopping.
While BDC staffing models vary, the primary role of the most common model is to deliver qualified prospects to the sales team for closing, rather than close the sale themselves. This is why many dealers look to include customer service veterans in addition to – or even in lieu of – traditional sales professionals. If service-oriented staff are provided with meaningful data-based information and insights about customers and prospects, they can return powerful results in customer experience and relationship building. This is especially true for loyalty and retention clients who are still early in the sales cycle and not quality candidates for a sales appointment in the near term, but who still benefit from a personalized connection to the dealership through the BDC team. Over time, those customers will become hotter prospects ready for their next showroom visit.
A core concept of effective dealer customer experience is the importance of interacting with the right customers, in the right way, at the right time and with the right message. Managing BDC teams primarily to a metric that is appropriate just for customers at one stage in their relationship with the dealer – sales appointments scheduled – incentivizes them to either deprioritize customers at different points in that relationship building or to try to force customers into a stage for which they’re not ready. Either response to that management pressure ends up limiting the very outcome you’re hoping your BDC will accomplish: Moving prospects from the early fact finding stage to an informed decision, where you get them on the showroom floor.
When selecting BDC managers, dealers need to ensure they’re identifying people who are able to balance the necessary concern for metrics with a broader dedication to customer experience and customer relationship management. While there’s value in having someone with experience in sales managing a BDC on a day-to-day basis, the CX focus of the role suggest considering candidates with a diversity of backgrounds and experience with managing in non-sales environments.
When they’re structured, staffed and managed appropriately, BDCs can be useful accelerators of the prospect’s decision process and helpful contributors to the customer’s satisfaction with their overall experience. Those engaged and happy customers show up in a dealership’s bottom line. Dealers need to make sure that they’re staffing their BDCs with the right team, arming them with the right information and insight about prospects and then managing them to metrics that measure their success in building a relationship with their customers, not just getting them on a showroom’s calendar.
Learn how automotiveMastermind can help your BDC team effectively communicate with prospects. Schedule a consultation today.