By David Sims
The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is John Prine's "Sweet Revenge:"
Auto/Mate Dealership Systems has announced the addition of Phone/Mate, what it's calling "a salesperson productivity tool" within its CRM module, Customer/Mate.
Available as an option, Phone/Mate is powered by Toll Free Edge, Inc., a vendor of voice software applications.
Phone/Mate is described by Auto/Mate officials as "a tool for tracking inbound and outbound sales calls," allowing the dealership sales management team to "create salesperson accountability, increase salesperson productivity, and measure advertising campaign results."
"One of the biggest problems dealers have is salesperson productivity," said Mike Esposito, President and CEO of Auto/Mate Dealership Systems and former dealership General Manager. "As all dealers know it's not what you expect it's what you inspect."
Must be a car industry thing.
Phone/Mate, he said, "helps managers identify areas in which the salespeople are effective and areas that require improvement. By implementing this knowledge on a day to day basis, managers can help their salespeople become more successful."
The way it works is throughout the day, managers can see that the salespeople are making their calls since Phone/Mate will automatically update call status within the manager's view on Customer/Mate CRM. In addition, managers can run reports showing how many calls were completed, length of calls, and then specify parameters of certain calls to be selectively listened to, such as all calls longer than five minutes.
Listening to recorded calls can tell a manager how salespeople are interacting with their prospects or customers. Recorded calls can then be played back in training scenarios for the staff to help them improve phone techniques.
"Instead of asking, What did this person do today? Phone/Mate allows managers to ask, How can we improve what this person did today?" said Esposito.
Customer/Mate CRM can be set up to track and record all inbound sales calls, helping managers evaluate ROI on advertising dollars.
Assigning a unique toll free number to every advertisement, whether on the television, print, yellow pages or Internet, allows the results from each ad to be tracked and recorded. The system even analyzes the reports for the dealer, making it easy to identify where marketing dollars are best spent.
In other automotive CRM news, AutoSurvey, a vendor of customer loyalty products, has announced it has renamed the company from AutoSurvey, Inc. to Vital Insight Group, LLC.
AutoSurvey was formed to market its namesake customer loyalty application to automotive dealers. Recently, company executives decided to differentiate between the product name and company name due to plans to consolidate the company's additional product lines under one entity.
"AutoSurvey remains our flagship product, but the interest from other industries for similar customer service solutions could not be ignored," said Jason Tryfon, President of Vital Insight Group. "The expansion into other markets benefits our automotive clients as we'll be combining several development teams and growing several product lines under one roof, adding increased functionality, support and Research & Development."
Vital Insight Group, LLC is headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona with Canadian operations, Vital Insight Group Canada Inc., located in North York, Ontario. The company also maintains a regional based office in Los Angeles.
In 2006, Vital Insight Group experienced tremendous growth. In less than one year, the customer base for AutoSurvey grew from less than 100 automotive dealers to more than 1,000, and company revenues have quadrupled.
"Customers like the fact that dealer principals are involved as part of our team and can explain how the product functions and how they should build the program for their particular needs," said Tryfon by way of explanation, adding that "if a dealer wants a change, it's done immediately, not in one week or two weeks."
Through its partners, AutoSurvey has certified interfaces to more than 45 DMS products, easing integration concerns for auto dealers.
There seems to be a theme at work here, as Ownersite Technologies, a developer of Web-based and mobile applications designed to "increase vehicle safety, reliability and value for consumers, and provide expanded CRM capabilities for automotive service providers," according to company officials, has announced that it has formed a partnership with myEZCarCare.
The partnership is supposed to combine "the utility of Ownersite's consumer model with the capabilities of its OEM model," and integrate it with "myEZCarCare's business model to provide additional marketing and customer loyalty functionality, co-branding opportunities, and prepaid preventive maintenance options."
MyEZCarCare is designed, company officials say, to "align the needs of the consumer, auto dealer, and auto finance company."
MyEZCarCare's innovative, technology-based prepaid car care maintenance system offers a range of plans and benefits -- from oil and filter change programs to comprehensive multi-year plans which cover all preventive maintenance.
All plans come with the Electronic Glove Box, developed with Ownersite Technologies, which provides reminder notices, online maintenance records, recall alerts, various reporting and expense tracking tools, loan and lease payment reminders, online vehicle resources, a personal web page for the consumer's vehicle, and much more.
In commenting on the value proposition that this partnership offers, Ownersite's Founder and CEO, Steve Eppinger, said "people are keeping their vehicles longer, so maintaining safety and residual value are important."
This partnership, he added, "combines the technology capabilities of Ownersite.com with the finance and auto expertise of the team behind myEZCarCare. The two services share similar foundations."
Ed Bourgeois, CPA, Founder and CEO of myEZCarCare and a guy who never hears any Karl Marx jokes, said the program "helps build loyalty and provides ongoing marketing opportunities for dealerships and financial institutions. Also, prepaid maintenance best assures that a vehicle will be maintained, protecting vehicle value."
MyEZCarCare will be sold through multiple channels, including franchise dealerships, select high-end independent auto dealerships, financial institutions that finance new or used vehicles, vehicle leasing companies, Internet vehicle sales channels, fast lube locations, direct mail, alliances with major consumer organizations, automobile warranty and insurance companies, and credit card marketing programs.
The pilot program was launched last month in the Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas and St. Louis, Missouri markets. The program will roll out on a national basis in the coming months.
In keeping with the theme of the column today, how much of the fact that Toyota's so much more successful in America these days, more so than traditional American car makers, has to do with the fact that they care a lot more about customer satisfaction?
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