Who Is Answering Your Phone??
One of the most often-asked questions that I encounter deals with the topic of IVR systems or Loan-by-Phone services. I usually avoid writing about the subject because no matter how generic I make my comments, they still sound like a commercial. Most of you know that I have been associated with VOISYS since the mid-1990’s and that VOISYS has almost become a generic name for IVR systems in Special Finance.
However, recently I received a specific request to write about the subject so here goes.
One of the most neglected aspects of dealership operations is the telephone system, equipment and those who answer the telephones. It seems that if there is a weak link in our physical operations, the telephones are the culprit. Just recently I made an attempt to contact a local used car manager. This is a true story. The dealership uses an automated system with an online directory and an operator as a last resort. I dialed the main number and not having my client’s extension handy, keyed for the directory. It asked me to input his first name and I did. His name happens to be Jim, so it was not difficult even for a seasoned citizen like me. The name came back as Donna Something! Tried # for the next entry and * for the previous entry, but not a “Jim” to be had. I tried the second time with the same results. Feeling somewhat defeated, I pushed “0” for the operator who was pleasant and immediately transferred my call. . . .to the Service Department. I explained to the very cordial gentleman that answered just who I was trying to reach and he pleasantly offered to transfer my call. . . .back to the operator! She was very business like and, without any apology, transferred my call. . .to the right person. All this probably took just a few minutes, but seemed like hours and I knew the person I wanted to reach.
Imagine for a moment, if you will, that I was a prospect who had read a print ad, a yellow page entry, received a direct mail piece or who had seen a TV ad or heard a radio commercial? How many attempts would that potential customer have made before giving up? Just who is answering your phones?
Easy fix, you say! Just get a dedicated, direct line. Quick math tells me that there are 168 hours in the week of which most of us are working about 60. What about those other 108 hours? What about the times that you are tied up with an interview or a delivery? Lunch or bathroom breaks? Who is answering your telephone? Believe me, answering machines are not effective. You may not be the one to control the hiring and training of telephone personnel. It has been tried and has failed miserably. Many dealers have tried using call centers or answering services for off hours and line-busy transfers. Here again you have absolutely no control over who is answering your line and what they are saying, or even more importantly, not saying, to your prospects.
Since the majority of calls that come into a Special Finance department are credit related, the best solution available is an IVR (Integrated Voice Response) system like VOISYS’ reliable Loan-By-Phone service. There are probably others available, but you won’t find their names crossing my lips. So much for impartiality, you say! Not only do you control who is answering the phone, you control the message which is the same every time the phone is answered. Do you want the calls to come directly to you during business hours? Phone service providers offer time-of-day-drop, which allows the phone to ring at your desk during certain hours and automatically switch to IVR during all others. Loan-By-Phone allows you to tailor your message to dovetail with your advertising. The automated operator is always on duty, always asks the proper questions, always records the customer’s answers correctly and never comes in feeling poorly or with a bad attitude. Loan-By-Phone is consistent, productive and best of all compliant with all Federal statutes.
If you are advertising for Special Finance prospects in any format, i.e., print, TV, radio, direct mail or any others, you need to be using a Toll-Free, 24/7/365 Loan-By-Phone system. If not, you are losing money daily. LBP increases response to your advertising by over 25% above direct telephone line response. A recent informal survey has shown that when given a choice, 75% of Direct Mail respondents chose an 800 line over an internet response. And to top it all off, you can access your incoming leads on the internet from any computer, tablet or smart phone.
If you want to know more about how a Loan-By-Phone system can make you more money, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow the links to the Loan-By-Phone system on the VOISYS website . I promise that I will give you commercial-free information that comes from decades of experience in this industry. Again, if you are advertising for Special Finance prospects, you had better know exactly who is answering your phones, and what is being said, when you are not available.
Just my two cents worth!
About the author
Dick Hassberger, of Lake Orion, Michigan is a veteran of over 50 years in the Automotive Financing and Leasing industry, starting his career with the former Wayne Oakland Bank in September 1960. Dick is National Sales Director for VOISYS. He has held executive positions with Major Banks, Lending Institutions and Leasing companies and has accumulated a vast store of knowledge in the automotive financing industry, which he regularly shares with his client dealerships as well as readers of this blog. Dick was a regular author for World of Special Finance Magazine.