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Collaborate to own the customer experience

In business, you can’t create everything. Nor should you try.

In the beginning, there was Microsoft. Apple arrived a year later. And they’ve been rivals ever since. But did you know, they’ve also been business partners?

Collaboration between competitors may not be business as usual but it happens. Amazon Marketplace, for instance, allows competitors to sell products, such as books, on the platform — and for lower prices than the same products are sold by Amazon. In a similar vein, Apple Music is now available on Android devices.

The strategy is simple: give your customers want they want, even if executing on that strategy requires collaborating with other companies, including competitors.

Fortunately, in most cases, business collaborations or partnerships are not made between competitors but with other companies serving the same market.

Better than build or buy

As the principal owner of Shaker Auto Group, as well as the founder of TruVideo, a video-first communication tool for dealerships, I know first-hand the need for and value of collaboration in retail automotive.

Granted some OEMs, dealerships and vendors might question the value in collaborating or partnering with other companies. If they don’t want to build a solution themselves, they can always look to buy a smaller company that has the missing piece they seek. Big fish eat little fish.

But instead of owning it all, why not collaborate with a company that has what you need and leverage their expertise, investment and proven success? Such companies tend to have a laser-like focus on their solutions, and can help you get to market sooner.

TruVideo, ShakerMore: How to take communication with your customers to the next level — Joe Shaker, TruVideo

Industry vendor Outsell, an AI-driven customer data and engagement platform, reached that conclusion when they partnered with TruVideo.

Collaboration must make sense

The partnership between Outsell and TruVideo enabled the former’s dealership clients to send robust and timely text messages and videos via “smart lines” from a mobile phone to their customers. As a result, communication is immediate and bi-directional, transparent and measurable. Such lines foster transparency and trust and understanding.

A customer’s own words and phrases, for instance, can help dealers understand intent through a process known as “sentiment analysis.” When it comes to reporting, positive comments can be shown in green and negative comments in red, making it easier to spot potential trouble.

Another TruVideo feature Outsell appreciated was TruVideo’s use of noise cancellation technology. Customers can clearly hear all comments made during a video-walk through, even in a busy service bay.

For Outsell, partnering with TruVideo makes their communication with customers crystal clear. And this communication makes it possible for Outsell’s dealer clients to own the customer experience, to shape it as needed.

Collaboration requires trust

I see retail automotive as a vibrant ecosystem, a community of OEMs, dealers and vendors working in the same marketplace. This ecosystem requires both competition and cooperation in order for its members to survive.

So, what should you look for in a collaboration? You must first find a partner whose solution you need and whose solution will work as advertised.

In a 2020 study of service customers, CDK Global, a leading DMS provider, discovered that 55% of customers didn’t trust dealerships because those customers believe they are frequently upsold on unnecessary repairs and are kept in the dark during the repair process.

To address this negative perception, CDK Global partnered with TruVideo to create CDK ServiceView, a text-based video communication tool designed for service departments using CDK Service or eLead Service. For their customers, seeing is believing.

Collaboration requires proof

Theory without execution is hallucination, and I don’t like to hallucinate. In business, people are quick to spout buzzwords, but are often unable to execute on them. Simply put, there is no there “there.”

TruVideo tests its products with actual users. When they tested with Mazda Dealer 20 Groups, dealers began to notice positive results and soon word of their success spread within the OEM.

But Mazda wanted more proof before partnering with TruVideo. Rightly so. It’s always smart to make sure a vendor can walk the talk before committing.

Mazda tested a 1.1 million repair sample and discovered a $55 increase in customer spend from customers who received a video of their service versus customers who were not sent a video. Plus, customer intent to return to the dealership for vehicle service was four points higher.

The result? Mazda got two bites at the apple, one for customer experience and one for revenue. According to the J.D. Power’s Service Satisfaction Index, Mazda last year went from number 11 to number three.

If the collaboration fits

In writing about collaboration, I am reminded of the words of the comedian Steven Wright: “You can’t have everything. Where would you put it?”

In business, you can’t create everything. Nor should you try. That’s why smart companies bolster their own offerings by collaborating or partnering with best-of-breed solution providers. Your mission? To explore new opportunities.

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Joe Shaker
Joe Shaker
Joe Shaker is the CEO and Founder of TruVideo, the industry’s leading provider of an all-in-one, video-first communication platform that enables dealerships to deliver trusted and effective customer engagements. He is also the principal owner of Shaker Auto Group and won the Massachusetts Dealer of the Year award.

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