At NADA 2020 in sunny Las Vegas, host Jim Fitzpatrick was joined by John Hickey and Michael Seeman from CDK Global. John is the Executive Vice President of North America Customer Experience and Michael is Vice President of Customer Success and Enablement.
Jim Fitzpatrick: How has the CDK Customer Success Model evolved over the last year?
John Hickey: It’s a very exciting time to be at CDK. We’re evolving to be a partner of choice for our customers. What that means is we’re putting the customer in the center of what we do. You have seen an open letter from our CEO recently. Putting the customer in the center means you have to really be there to listen to them and to understand what their requirements are. You have to be there for them, too. So this year we’ve extended our service hours by 42%, so we’re open from 7-10 every day of the week to help our customers.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Wow. And is that cultural?
John Hickey: Actually-
Jim Fitzpatrick: You have two different chips, I would imagine.
John Hickey: What it does, if you think about it, when the customer wins and they get their resolution, everybody wins.
Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s right.
John Hickey: The other thing is we added a hundred customer success advocates-
Jim Fitzpatrick: Oh, my gosh, wow.
John Hickey: Which are supporting about 60% of our dealerships.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Okay, fantastic.
John Hickey: They’re more of a proactive outreach versus a support channel, and Michael is obviously leading that division and is having great success.
Jim Fitzpatrick: For sure. How does the Customer Success Model bring value to dealers?
Michael Seeman: So historically, we’ve been a sales and marketing organization and some would say we’ve been too reactive. Right? Post-sale. So we’ve created a dynamic change. Now we’re proactive, right? So these advocates and performance managers that we brought on board are working with our customers on a monthly basis to uncover their business needs. If you look around the hall here, you see all these different dealers, right? They all sell cars, service cars, sell parts, but they all have different strategies. It’s our goal as their strategic business partner to understand their business needs and make sure that they get the most out of our solutions.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Right. Fantastic. So how has CDK built on the Customer Success program to now take a customer experience to the new level?
John Hickey: But actually, interestingly enough, I think the third most important thing is we have to make sure that our customers are being successful by using the products. So Customer Success Advocacy is a way to look at how a customer is using the tools and then give them tips to improve that so that they become master users of the equipment, thereby improving their margins, improving their dealerships overall.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Sure. What are you hearing from the dealers about the interactions with the Customer Experience CDK team?
Michael Seeman: Oh, the results have been phenomenal. Actually, they’re asking for more. Right? So as John mentioned, we’re covering 60% of our customers with phase one. That’s with Brian Krzanich, our CEO. His letter came out last year. So we’re covering 60%. They’re asking us to go faster. So it’s been very positive. It’s been exciting.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah. Yeah. Well, did it come at a time that the company just felt that it needs to really just realign its focus or…?
Michael Seeman: Yeah, I mean, that’s the big thing. He came in and we did a survey with our customers. So Brian said, “I want to understand what our customers think of us.” And the surveys coming back said, “We need more of you.” Right?
Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah, sure.
Michael Seeman: And we’re using data as well. So in addition to just having bodies work, resources work with our customers, we’re using data points to help understand the performance and utilization. Never again do I want a sales rep, a sales partner of ours to walk into a dealership and ask, “How’s business?” Right? As a strategic business partner, we should know how your business is performing and how well you are using our software. That’s our goal.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Which is what dealers are looking for when they align themselves with a partner.
Michael Seeman: Absolutely.
Jim Fitzpatrick: I mean, a true partner that’s going to be in the trenches with them that has that data. And to your point, you’re right. I mean, as a former dealer myself, I know that when somebody would come in like that and say, “How’s business?”, they’re like, “You got to be kidding me. What kind of partner are you?”
John Hickey: So, in fact, I would say just to add to that, listening to the customers is important, too, for many different reasons when it comes to customer experience. This year we took the time to reorder all of our training programs that we deliver to customers, which will give them a better experience when they have new hires or when they start with us.
Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s huge.
John Hickey: In addition to that, we have really focused on answering the phones more quickly. That’s a little bit traditional, I think, but we’ve improved that average speed to answer by about 42%. And we’re getting good feedback on that, and that’s something we’re going to continue to invest it.
Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s fantastic. And it’s not an AI operator. It’s an actual person.
John Hickey: It’s an actual person.
Michael Seeman: Exactly.
Jim Fitzpatrick: How are the new advocates and performance managers improving the CDK customer experience?
Michael Seeman: So like I said, they’re working with the customers on a monthly basis and uncovering the needs. So again, at the end of the day, I don’t want a customer to say, “I’m not using your software.” Right? “You’re not there for me.” So having those advocates contact a dealer champion on a monthly basis is improving the overall experience for our customers.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Okay. Okay. How can dealers expect the Customer Experience team and Customer Success program to continue in the future?
John Hickey: So the good thing about an evolution is it continues. When you look at customer experience overall, after a customer has become very good at using our tools and has had a lot of coaching, we still have a professional services division, which will go on site and help them to improve process, look at industry best practices, and try and improve your fixed operations margins or labor hours, or whatever the dealer really wants to focus on to help them with growth.
Jim Fitzpatrick: And they’re boots on the ground in the field, helping-
John Hickey: Boots on the ground in the field.
Michael Seeman: It doesn’t matter if they’re a CDK customer or not. We’re focused on the industry in general.
Michael Seeman: Yeah.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah. That’s a huge differentiator for dealers. If they know you’ve got somebody coming in to the store to help them, and it’s not a helpline, or it’s not somebody that’s going to be doing something quarterly that stops by, that’s really big, right?
Michael Seeman: Well, think about it. We’ve been in business for over 45 years. We have a ton of industry knowledge so we should be able to, again, be good stewards of the industry and help our dealers.
Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s right. Why is it a good time to partner with CDK? I know that’s a softball, right?
John Hickey: CDK is a different company because of the evolution. We’re putting the customer in the middle. We’re thinking about what’s good for the customer is good for us as well. The discussions we’re having with customers on a daily basis are helping us impact and improve our technology as well as our processes, and I’m really excited about the future of CDK.
Michael Seeman: I would also add, this is the first time in our history we’ve had a technologist as our CEO, so-
Jim Fitzpatrick: Really?
Michael Seeman: Absolutely.
Jim Fitzpatrick: I wasn’t aware of that. That’s pretty cool.
Michael Seeman: The first time ever, and so he’s focused-
Jim Fitzpatrick: So they’re on the front line?
Michael Seeman: He’s focused on not only fixing and making our current software better, but what’s going to happen two, three years down the road.
Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s right. That we’re all looking at, right? I mean-
Michael Seeman: Absolutely.
Jim Fitzpatrick: The big buzzword right now is digital retailing, right? Everybody’s trying to get their partners in line, those that see the vision or have the vision about digital retail, and obviously CDK is at the forefront of that as well.
Michael Seeman: And also, too, you think about Fortellis, we really didn’t talk about that, but we’re an open platform. Right?
Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah.
Michael Seeman: I would tell you five years ago we would say, “We do everything for you,” but we’re not saying that now. We’re saying that it’s a good time to do business with us because we want to integrate with everyone. Everyone in this showroom or in this conference-
Jim Fitzpatrick: Fortellis is certainly… Oh my God, that’s an incredible platform that is completely have at it. Right?
Michael Seeman: We’re excited.
Jim Fitzpatrick: John and Michael, thank you so much for joining us on CBT News. Hope you have a great show here at NADA. The buzz is incredible.
Michael Seeman: I appreciate the time.
John Hickey: Thank you.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Thank you so much.
Michael Seeman: Thank you.