How Autohaus Birkelbach uses Autoflows to optimize its aftersales and maximize retention

Interview with Managing Director Björn Wacket


This article was published on AUTOHAUS, the leading automotive magazine in Germany, on September 29, 2023.

ag analytics turns data into action for 600+ car dealerships in Europe.
Autohaus Birkelbach was one of the first car dealers in Germany to try it out.

Managing Director Björn Wacket and the team from Autohaus Birkelbach

Predictions are a tricky business. Football forecasts only work every now and then, but weather forecasts are usually right. One of the reasons for this is the availability of better data.

And there is plenty of data in the automotive industry. Valuable information is stored in countless systems, – and it should be collected like a treasure trove and put to the right use. This applies first and foremost to customer data. Many car dealerships do not know their existing customers well enough, if at all. And yet, in conjunction with digital processes, customer data can be a key to improving service quality and freeing employees from time-consuming tasks.

Made in Denmark

The SaaS provider ag analytics has developed its own solution for this purpose. The Danish company started in 1987 as a consultancy and CX software developer for importers and OEMs in Scandinavia. Close cooperation with DMS provider Keyloop laid the foundation for Autoflows, its hassle-free aftersales automation solution. In the process, an interface was developed for fully automated data retrieval and implementation of the process steps for optimized customer retention. In the Nordic region, around 70 percent of all Keyloop car dealers now use Autoflows. In the German market, where ag analytics has been active since the beginning of 2023, the system can be used with DMSs from Loco-Soft and T-Systems in addition to Keyloop.

Using existing DMS data

Autoflows reads and analyzes all historical orders from the last four to six years. Every customer, even if they have only been to the dealership once during that time, is recorded. The information includes all DMS data about the customer and the vehicle.

This information can then be used by the dealership to automatically send service reminders to the right customers at the right time – for example when a vehicle inspection (MOT) is due or to remind about the expiry of a service agreement. This way, the dealership knows in advance which of its customers it can actively approach about an upcoming workshop visit.

The new digital channels mean that there are more and more leads in car dealerships. These need to be collected and evaluated to service customers efficiently – a noticeable additional workload for the employees. Björn Wacket, Managing Director of Autohaus Birkelbach, was also familiar with this challenge:

“For existing customers alone, profiling, data maintenance, winning back workshop customers and scheduling appointments in the workshop would require three to four employees. A dealership of our size wouldn’t have the human resources to handle all that.”

says Wacket. That’s how he finally came across Autoflows. Customer loyalty is very important to the Mercedes-Benz dealer:

“Sending out all service reminders manually would be very time-consuming. Yet, reminders are essential for customer loyalty.”

Predicting the next visit with AI and NLP

That’s why the first step required a system to analyze the existing customer data and to intelligently organize it so that it could be used for further steps in customer communication.

“Autoflows checks the data records not only for completeness, but also to make sure that all keywords for the search across order lines are set correctly.” explains Christian Seehusen, Head of DACH at ag analytics. “For example, on one invoice it says ‘service,’ while on another it says ‘maintenance.’ Autoflows is calibrated to recognize all related terms,” says Seehusen. After just a few weeks, the system can make its own selections and send out invitations and appointment reminders.

Supercharging the dealer management system

After a fully automated customer selection, Autoflows sends out personalized reminders and recognizes how customers react to them. If no appointment is booked in response to the first reminder, the system automatically sends a second one by e-mail or SMS a week later. If nothing happens again after another week, the system recommends that an employee follow up with the customer by phone.

Autoflows also helps dealers better filter out customers who only come to the shop now and then, or not at all.

“Every invoice would have to be opened manually. Autoflows collects everything for us and evaluates it for us.”

explains Björn Wacket. If a customer does not respond to the reminder, Wacket and his team analyze the customer and can then determine in a phone call whether they have switched to another workshop, sold their vehicle or, for any other reason, no longer come to the dealership for service.

Enrichment for the team

As with many digital projects, some of Birkelbach’s employees were initially a little hesitant. There is currently too much skepticism about digital systems that take over the tasks of human employees. Björn Wacket therefore got his workforce on board right from the start and incorporated the expertise of his employees into the system during the introduction.

“Digitization in the automotive industry is currently in a phase in which effort and benefit are still in balance. However, that will soon change and the investments will pay off. I expect Autoflows to save us around 30 percent in time spent on these activities. Time that the employees can then use for the really important customer tasks.”

emphasizes Björn Wacket.

Positive feedback across the board

Not only the customers, but also the employees of Autohaus Birkelbach are pleased with the new automatic service reminders and communication options. If a vehicle has reached a certain age limit or mileage, for example, the system can also send customers an invitation to talk to a salesperson. “We are thus building a bridge from service to sales,” says Christian Seehusen.

For Björn Wacket, Autoflows has become an important tool for customer engagement and retention that works seamlessly across multiple channels – whether digitally or in person at the dealership. This multichannel approach already plays a major role in sales. After all, customers choose for themselves how they want to get in touch with the dealership. All the dealership has to do is create favorable conditions. Those who fail to do so and continue to rely solely on the telephone could find it difficult to retain old customers and win new ones.

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