Technology speeds up and simplifies just about everything in today’s car dealership. But when technical difficulties occur, the resulting downtime frustrates everyone.

Most information-technology vendors ensure maximum uptime, but when there are glitches, fixes must happen fast for the sake of the store.

To help dealerships best handle tech issues and get back up to speed, AutoSoft Chief Operating Officer Charlie Prophet shares tips garnered from the experiences of his dealership-management system firm’s frontline tech-support team.

  • Act Fast: Contact the provider’s support team as soon as problems occur. Remember as best as possible the user action or actions done immediately prior to the problem. Share this information with the support individual.
  • Slow Down: Act quickly when a problem emerges, but slow down your individual user response. Urgently clicking through screens can lead to missed operator-error messages or warnings. Avoid complicating the issue.
  • Stay Focused: Keep your attention on the issue during the support call. This means deferring other calls and avoiding other tasks while speaking with the technician. Distraction can cause misunderstandings and miscommunications that compound the problem or delay the fix.
  • Remain Flexible: Many vendors provide 24/7 support, though still more common are support hours that parallel dealership-operating hours. Vendors also provide online, Web, live-chat and FAQ support tools.
  • When using live support, make time to complete the call and focus on the outcome. Resolutions sometimes require more than a few minutes, so set aside sufficient time to work them out.

Patti Albright, manager of support center services for the Help Desk Institute, reports an increase in use of available online resources, from e-mail to live chat.

“Many vendors’ technology products offer users sophisticated help tools like application-activated and Web-integrated interfaces, which make engaging vendor support easy and quick” Prophet says.

But some users still prefer more traditional methods of contact, he says. Those include phone calls, faxes and, every now and then, written messages.