Adam Alfia, Founder & Managing Director, Real Time Feedback
Dominion DMS Vue Points
Sharon Kitzman: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to Viewpoints, Dominion DMS’s video podcast series where we highlight our vendor partners. I’m Sharon Kitzman, president of Dominion DMS, and today we are speaking to Adam Alfia. He’s the founder and managing director of Realtime Feedback. Adam, welcome.
Adam Alifa: Hey, how are you? Great to be here.
Sharon Kitzman: I’m doing great. I hope you are as well. I am looking forward to this conversation. Um, I think online reputation for my business, maybe for yours and certainly for dealers feels like a severe pitfall sometimes. Uh, so tell us a little bit about yourself and your company Real Time Feedback.
Adam Alifa: Sure. Yeah. My name is Adam Alfia.
I’m the founder and [00:01:00] managing director of real time feedback. We are a two way, uh, customer engagement platform. That specialize in the automotive industry to help, uh, service managers, sales managers, general managers, find out about failed experiences, um, before they hit online reviews, et cetera, uh, before they get the factory survey and amplify the happy customers.
Most dealerships have a lot of happy customers, but they don’t have a really good way mechanism of getting those happy customers to leave. positive online experiences on social media platforms such as Google or Facebook, Dealer Rater, etc. So we facilitate that interaction.
Sharon Kitzman: Excellent. So as I look at all the vendors that are attending events like NADA or Digital Dealer, You know, unfortunately, everybody has competitors out there.
So is, is there something unique [00:02:00] about real time feedback that you’d like to share with the audience, maybe compared to those competitors that sets you apart?
Adam Alifa: Yeah. So, uh, you know, the two biggest ones are probably reputation. com and Podium and the difference between, uh, Reputation. com. I just actually did a demo with them when I was a digital dealer.
And the interaction is not in real time. So there is a lag 24 to 48 hours before, uh, the dealership finds out about that failed experience where we are in the moment, as you know, as soon as that customer checks out. And pays for a repair order or that deal is booked in the DMS. We send out that text messages immediately, but we have 1 other facet that nobody has.
And that is that we put a specialized patented smart codes in the dealership. So whether it’s a customer sitting in service or maybe in the sales area [00:03:00] while they’re waiting for the paperwork to happen, we have QR code sprinkled up throughout the dealership that if that customer ever has any issues whatsoever, while they’re waiting, even before they check out, they can now scan a QR code and immediately message.
And correspond with the service manager because right now everybody’s feeling a real crunch with, you know, getting enough technicians, uh, in their service bays. So, you know, and, and the, and the, uh, receptionist will say, oh, yeah, it’ll be an hour for your old change entire rotation. And two hours later, that customer is still there twiddling their thumbs, waiting to see what’s going on.
A lot of customers, you know, they see their service advisor is busy. They don’t want to get up and, you know, and disrupt them. So they’ll just sit there all the while, maybe talking to other people on their phone and said, yeah, I’ve been here for two hours. He told me an hour. And so what we’re doing is facilitating in conversation with the service manager, where they can scan a QR code and say, Hey, I’ve been here for two hours.
What’s going on with my [00:04:00] car? And that immediately notifies the service manager and they can start that dialogue. So we find that customers that are unhappy tend to use that, that part portion of our platform a lot to communicate with management. So that’s something that nobody else was doing.
And then lastly, we also aggregate all of their online reviews in one simple to use platform, and we’re automatically responding to all their four and five star reviews if they want that way. All they have to do is really worry about the one, two, and three. And we do that, uh, both using AI for the four and five star to generate a very well written Just a thank you.
Because when somebody leaves you a five star review, you don’t have to give them too much. Just just got to say thank you. And the A. I help you automatically respond to all of those. So those are off your plate because Google looks at that. How fast are you responding to customers? Are you responding to all of your customers on Google?
So that’s really important to do.
Sharon Kitzman: Great. Those are some [00:05:00] excellent, unique examples. Thank you. Um, I was looking through your website at some of the amazing testimonials you have. First of all, congratulations at that. Um, but one that really kind of caught my eye was, um, I think from Johnson Brothers Ford, uh, the service manager there, um, noted, um, how important it is to make sure that you’re getting that feedback, whether positive so you can accolade someone on your team or negative and get ahead of it before that consumer gets a survey from the manufacturer. So, Just what you said about that potential 48 hour lag, unfortunately, is, is enough time for the OEM to sneak in there with something and, and really, uh, create more problems, um, than the upset customer in the beginning.
Is, is that the kind of thing you hear most often from dealers who are, are looking at real time feedback? [00:06:00]
Adam Alifa: Yeah, so it’s amazing because we always prepare people, you know, cause everybody goes, yeah, most of my customers are happy and yeah, if a customer is unhappy, I really want to take care of them, but they don’t really have a mechanism to do that.
How do you know when your customer is unhappy and you can’t gauge by, well, the customer didn’t call and complain. So therefore they’re happy because some people have a nagging little issue, you know, hey, you told me an hour and I sat there for three hours or I just got back home and I got, you know, footprints or hand handprints all over my car and it’s not enough to call and go through the morriganmarole of.
You know, uh, calling this the front desk and getting a service advisor. Hey, I just got my car back. I got hampered. They just deal with it. But our system really reveals, you know, if you send me a text message and say, Hey, on a scale of 1 to 5, how’s your overall experience? And I give you a 3 star and it opens up says, you know, we apologize.
We can give you a 5 star experience. What can we improve on? And I put on there, I just got my car back and you have oily [00:07:00] finger and, you know, handprints all over my car. That customer was, it was enough for them to act and tell you about that. And you need to have somebody respond. Hey, I’m really saying all.
And usually it’s just, Hey, I’m really sorry about that. If you want to swing the car by, I’ll have somebody wipe it down or do a detail on your car. That’s enough to win a customer for life. Because, you know, they have a thing called a CES customer effort score. How easy is it, do you make it for your customers to communicate with you?
Um, and then number two, they call it, it’s called the service recovery paradox, which states if you have a customer that’s loyal and has never ever had an issue with your dealership and is happy, if you have a customer that did have an issue and you resolved it quickly and efficiently and he’s, they’re happy with, with the results, they’ll become actually more loyal than the customer has never had an issue because you know, they, they battle tested you and you stood up and you took care of it, Hey, not a problem. You did it quickly and efficiently for them. They’ll love you even more. And they’ll even [00:08:00] amplify that experience. You know what? They screwed up, but they stood up to it.
They took care of it. And those are the stories that really resonate and make customers come back.
Sharon Kitzman: Yeah. That’s great. And so true, unfortunately. Um, so you you mentioned digital dealer. I mentioned it earlier as well. If, if you look around, you know that floor and you see all the vendor partners that are out there and all the different decisions that a dealer might have to make to run their, their business on behalf of their employees and their consumers.
The two of us are working together to try to, you know, make it better, right? Make it a more seamless experience to be able to implement a DMS and a reputation management, um, solution. Are, are there any, or is there any advice? that you might have or something that we could be doing [00:09:00] different in order to help dealers facilitate a solution like yours more seamlessly into their environment with Dominion DMS.
Adam Alifa: Yeah, so, you know, with our integration with Dominion allows that as soon as that customer checks out from the service department and pays for the repair order, as well as as soon as a deal is closed or booked and the dealership decide at what point that they consider the deal closed. It then sends that customer that invitation either through text message or email.
Text message we have, um, anywhere from a 35 to 40 percent engagement rate, which is incredible compared to, you know, factory surveys or dealership surveys, because people want quick and easy. Don’t ask me 15 questions about my experience. You know, if I have anything wrong, just give me a place to tell you what it is.
And now we have, you know, having that instant and as close to real time, interaction with our customer [00:10:00] really. You know when the experience is fresh in their head is really when you want to when you ask them how their experience was and if it’s great. We sent them straight to Google or Dealer Raider.
We even have a sprinkler. So the first time they come in, we might send them to Google. The second time we’ll send them to Facebook. The third time, this is a 15 different sites that we’re integrated with that we can send them to. But it’s really, um, A, if they’re happy, don’t ask them too many questions.
Don’t ask them questions at all. Just say you’re happy. Great. Leave us a review. Not happy. You know, what, what, what went wrong, what can we improve on and make sure you respond to those. So I think the Dominion integration that we have is perfect. Um, we’d obviously love to see more Dominion dealerships on there, um, to, to help them, uh, tell their story better.
Sharon Kitzman: Yeah. Well, hopefully this podcast will help with that effort. Um, you know, I always think of our industry as ever evolving, right? It never stands still. And there are, it’s, it’s amazing to [00:11:00] think we’re, we’re into Q4 already, um, in this calendar year, but there are a number of distractions in front of dealers right now.
Um, if you’re a franchise as part of the big 3, you’ve got the UAW situation looming. That all the manufacturers that I’m talking to are pushing EVs really hard and I’m not sure the consumers are exactly where the manufacturers are on that paradigm. And of course, you know, you’re still battling interest rates, um, as well.
So as you and your team think, um, about, you know, what’s next, um, for real time feedback and the types of things that dealers are focused on right now. Is there anything, um, on the, on the horizon that we should know about that might help dealers overcome some of these huge obstacles right now?
Adam Alifa: Well, you know, for all the things, whether it be interest rate or the shortage in vehicles, I might precipitate [00:12:00] from this strike is it leads back to more service.
So customers are going to be keeping their vehicles rather than buying a new one, especially with the interest rates so high, you know, if you’re locked in at a good rate, you’re going to keep that vehicle. So that’s an increased service and service is really what Drives the revenue at dealerships. Um, so now that you have that opportunity, because most customers will buy a vehicle from the place where they service their vehicle for the, OEM.
So it’s really important to keep those customers happy. And what we’ve done recently, um, in the last three months, I think it was, since we launched it is a new AI, uh, platform where what happens is when the feedback comes in. Um, rather than you sitting, you have to read the feedback and write out a well written, you know, you’re busy, your phone’s ringing. Got customers to call back. Rather than sit there and write a world crafted response and apology for whatever issue they’re having, you just put it, push the button that says recommend AI response. [00:13:00] It’ll see the feedback that the customer left. It will recommend a real well written, empathetic, apologetic response, and then you can edit it.
If you want to throw the customer an oil change or $10 off next time, you can type that in there and hit submit. So we’ve, we’ve seen that the response time. For busy, you know, for dealerships gone from, you know, maybe half an hour to an hour to less than 10 minutes, because all you have to do is push that button.
It writes and it’s learning every time you change that feedback, it learns where you change it to, and it gives you a better answer next time over and over and over again. So that’s one thing that we’ve done, um, in, in really making it easier for dealerships to. Uh, to answer feedbacks and then to your other question about your other point about EVs, we just launched a friendly Chevrolet here in Dallas, not on Dominion, unfortunately, but he built a big EV park, uh, charging station park with several charging stations.
And now [00:14:00] you have customers that are sitting in their car for. You know, upwards of 20 to 30, 40 minutes. So we, we created these really nice patented QR, uh, what we call multi link codes where somebody can scan the QR code. Uh, they can order snacks to their car while they’re waiting. They can, uh, and they can see all the amenities that are available at the dealership.
So he’s really done. Yeah. I think he’s a, uh, really a trailblazer in that regard. It sounds like it. Yeah. He’s had GM come down and look at his EV park, but he’s. Thinking about putting in movie theater, you know, for watching TV while your car’s charging. So, so now you’ve got a captive audience to maybe look at new vehicles.
So we built these QR codes that can show them, you know, new vehicles on the lot, et cetera, that they can now have, uh, access to, to watch while they’re in their vehicle. So all sorts of cool things we’re building to help facilitate that 30 to 40 minute downtime that somebody might have, uh, buying accessories and all sorts of stuff.
So that’s really exciting.
Sharon Kitzman: That’s awesome. It’s [00:15:00] very inventive. Like you said, the next time I’m in Dallas, I’ll have to check that out. Um, I noticed on your website that dealers can check their reputation score, like right, right out of the gate. Um, is that the best place for a dealer to start if they’re considering real time feedback?
Adam Alifa: Yeah. So they can either go to our website and click on, get my reputation score, or they can go to, uh, check my scorecard. com. Uh, check my scorecard. com allows you to put in your dealership’s name and it’ll take about probably 60 to 90 seconds It’ll scrape all of the online review sites that you have out there and it’ll pull back a score It’ll show you over the 30 60 90 or 180 days.
You can choose which time frame you want It’ll show you how many reviews you’re getting So google looks when they’re when they’re ranking you for local seo and how you rank compared to other dealerships They look at four parameters look at How many reviews you’re getting? Um, it looks at, um, what the quality of those reviews [00:16:00] are.
So if you’re a four star, 4. 2, 3. 5, et cetera, then it looks at, are you responding to your Google reviews? And then lastly, how fast you’re responding. So Google’s mentality is if you don’t care about Google customers and you’re not responding, Google customers are responding really slow. Um, then they don’t care about, if you don’t care about them, they don’t care about you kind of mentality.
So we help on all four of those things. Um, the cool thing is, is that our average dealership, we don’t have any dealerships that generate less than a hundred five star Google reviews per month. And on average with our platform, customers usually have 20 to 30 reviews per month with an average ranking of, let’s say, 4.2. Every one of our customers have, has at least 4.7 star rating and at least 100 Google reviews per month. So we really skyrocket all the good stuff and we help you take care of the bad stuff.
Sharon Kitzman: That’s great. Excellent. All right. Well, since we’re both in [00:17:00] the automotive industry, um, I always ask the partners that I interview the same question, which is, uh, give me your favorite car story.
It could be a dream car that you’ve not yet purchased or, um, a car from your, your teens or somewhere in between, but we, we all live and breathe automotive and vehicles every day.
Adam Alifa: Yeah. So my, my favorite car story is when I was 16, I bought a, uh, 1985 Jeeps, a cherry red Jeep CJ seven and soft top. And it was, I love that car. I thought it was, you know, the coolest kid in school with my, you know, I took the top down when it was beautiful. It was a pain in the butt cause it had all those snaps you had to put on there, but nonetheless, uh, my favorite car story is that. You know, I didn’t know much about cars, and the clutch went out, and I took it into a repair shop, could get it, you get it repaired, and they told me the price, and it was, you know, $2,000, something like that.
I said, I’m not paying that. So, I, uh, bought a [00:18:00] Shilton manual, and it was a 4×4, and I didn’t know what I was getting into, but it took me about, it took me about a month, you know, working after school, you know, taking the transmission down, replacing it, but by God, I, uh, replaced that, that clutch all by myself.
And I saved myself a bunch of money. I think the parts were like 200 bucks and I saved, saved almost $1,800. It took me forever, but that really fueled a passion for my, uh, for my, uh, life and cars, I ended up owning four really high end auto repair facilities here in Dallas that I started when I was in college and sold them all in 05 to start a technology company, but for 17 years, um, I actually turned wrenches and I didn’t know anything about cars.
And I can, I still, all my cars, the house, I still, my wife laughs at me. I’ve got a, uh, one of those scissor lifts in my garage and I’ve got an Escalade and I’ve got a Ferrari that I, that I work on and I’m, and I’m raising it up and changing the oil in my garage and all that. So it’s something that, [00:19:00] you know, once you catch the bug.
It’s kind of hard to get away from. And you know, I don’t like having anybody else touch my vehicle.
Sharon Kitzman: Well, that’s an awesome story and a great start to your career. Adam, thank you so much for being with us here today. We appreciate it. And for our dealers who are watching, um, you can always go to the dominion DMS page and click on partners. All of our partners there are listed alphabetically or by category. So take a look at real time feedback and the link on that page will take you directly to Adam’s website that he mentioned earlier. Thank you so much for all the great information. I’m sure our dealers will appreciate it and I appreciate the time today.