Less Than Total Recall: How Not to Do CRM

John Storts
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This week, I had to take my car in to the dealership to have some recall repairs taken care of, along with some routine maintenance. In the course of getting these things addressed, I learned a lesson about the harm a lack of a customer relationship management system can inflict on customer satisfaction.


The first sign of this lack appeared when the dealership didn't have my name and contact info on file. As I had visited before, my information should have already been in the system. It was not. It wasn't a big deal, but it cost me a few minutes during a regular workday since I had to repeat all the info I'd given previously.


When I arrived to drop off the car, the service advisor checked his computer for my appointment information, which was supposed to include my name, contact info and recall repair details. It did not; in fact, my appointment wasn't in his system at all. The advisor was grudgingly apologetic, and said something to the effect that I might have to "get in line" until he managed to locate some incomplete records located on yet another system by calling a colleague. At that point, he became more sympathetic while manually transferring the information he needed into the system he was using. By this time, I was more than a little frustrated, both at the lost time and the fact that it had been implied that I was "cutting" in line when I had a scheduled repair.


Part of my CRM definition document came rushing back to me:

Care should be taken to avoid fragmented implementations where CRM strategies are employed in only part of a company. This results in information silos, wherein one part or department of the company locks up information that could be of benefit across the organization. This lack of integration with the overall business strategy creates a flawed implementation that presents an incomplete view of the client that can harm customer satisfaction.

Clearly, I was suffering from the satisfaction-robbing effects of information silos. The dealership most likely had at least two information systems in play, one to handle sales and one for service, and they didn't "talk" to one another. So, my previous history was lost, while my interaction with them regarding the service appointment wasn't visible to the system used by the personnel responsible for performing the service. On top of that, the service advisor made a phone call to locate my previous records. If the two information systems aren't even connected to one another, there's not much chance that the advisor will be able to use a real-time communication solution to send forms or copy-and-paste info where it belongs. This doesn't inspire much confidence in the consumer, and it certainly isn't efficient for the business.


So, while the work was satisfactory and completed within a reasonable time, it was still more hassle than it should have been, and the process was startlingly disjointed for a car dealership that earns so much money. On my way out the door, I grabbed a comment card. I'm still debating whether or not I should send it in with this succinct suggestion: CRM needs improvement.


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