The Hidden Revolution in the Equipment Industry
With 20+ years of business system design and business intelligence experience, Dale Hanna founded Foresight Intelligence in 2009 to help leading equipment dealers achieve operational excellence and a sustainable competitive advantage through effective use of real time KPI’s throughout the organization. Recently, Dale has added telematics to his passion and is enjoying the challenge of making oceans of disparate data useful to manufactures, dealers, rental companies, and end customers. Dale obtained a BSEE degree in Electrical Engineering from Cornell University and has been engaged in many associations serving the equipment industry. In his first guest blog for Learning Without Scars, Dale writes about the hidden revolution taking place in the equipment industry.
Technology is driving a revolution in the equipment industry that we can easily see: grade control, idle tracking, fault codes, autonomous equipment, electrification, etc. While the advancements are amazing and will continue to be, dealers are noticing brand differentiation becoming more and more of a challenge. In this margin-conscious market, we see the battle of the future being fought on customer experience and we see technology is quietly but rapidly driving that revolution.
This hidden revolution is happening in all areas of dealership operations. Today we focus on how technology is increasing efficiency and enhancing customer experience in the service area, especially during this time of unprecedented labor and parts shortage.
Below are strategies that are giving some equipment dealers a leg up:
Increasing Trust from Your Customers
We all know trust is a vital ingredient in delivering a great customer experience. If you are like me, I used to think building trust was an elusive and subjective endeavor. Chris Voss, a lead FBI hostage negotiator, gave us a formula to build trust quickly and predictably:
Trust = Predictability.
A system that can be configured to your workflow to automatically notify customers at key milestones creates a predictable service experience every time without adding more work for your people. Yes, UPS and FedEx have perfected this. You know exactly where your packages are all the time and the moment they are delivered. It is hard to imagine any shipping company being able to survive without it. Our expectations for the service experience are quickly reaching the same level.
Doing Business at the Speed of Text
When we do not get an email response from someone, what do we do? We text. According to a research report, on average, people respond to a text in 90 seconds and an email in about 90 minutes. Adding an integrated SMS (text) platform is like adding nitrous to your service engine. A fully integrated text platform notifies your customers of progress, provides new quotes, gets instant sign off for additional work, shares inspection results and obtains satisfaction survey results at lightning speed. All the communication history is saved for future reference. With the busy schedule your customers have, who would not appreciate a faster ride?
Self Service Makes Happier Customers
The pandemic has accelerated a trend that was already happening – we want to do more things online, by ourselves, at whatever hours we want, without having to wait on anyone. Providing information your customers need, in the forms they need, always accessible makes them feel informed and in control, both are important elements for happiness. A robust dashboard, easy to use interface, searchable/sortable/exportable data and schedulable reports keep your customers smiling while your people sleep.
Have Your Process Your Way
A lot of service systems were built based on someone else’s ideas, usually from the first few customers the system makers had. Your workflow is what makes your people efficient, and your organization stand out. Today’s technology allows an effective system to adapt to you rather than the other way around. Dynamic dashboards by user and role, quick and easy work order assignment and tracking, Apps for field technicians to easily add comments, pictures/videos, inspections can be required and enforced as a part of your workorder process are all examples of how today’s systems serve you the way you do business.
We Are More Powerful When We Are Connected
So are data and systems. At dealerships, we still use multiple systems to get things done. The last thing we want to add is another siloed system. Any service system today should connect with your OEM system for fault codes, warranty information and even submission, your telematics system for real time dispatching, customer’s telematics system for asset location and hours, maintenance management system to organize all the maintenance plans you sold and your business system for cost and PO information. The more your systems are connected, the more efficient you become.
The current pandemic will end for sure, but our world has changed forever. If we look at carefully, there is an undeniable trend – tech rich companies have done better in general, some has done exceptionally well and taken sizeable market share from competitors during COVID 19. This trend is definitely here to stay. Technology is not only changing things we can see and buy, but it is also changing the way we perform and experience service. Customers will certainly buy more equipment, especially with the new infrastructure bill, and whoever delivers the best customer experience will have the bigger share.