On Friday, CDK announced it is expanding its customer service operations, including adding staff and hours, increasing site visits and simplifying bills. Staff Reporter David Muller sat down with CEO Brian Krzanich, 58, who was named to the post in November. Here are edited excerpts.
Q: What were you hearing from dealers when you arrived at CDK?
A: It was a very consistent theme of, "We tend to see you every couple of years when it's time to re-up our contract, and we don't see a lot of you in between. Your hours frustrate us. We're here all these other days, and you're not. So how can we consider you a real partner when you're not around enough and you don't work the same hours I do?"
If you think about it on a real pragmatic level, that is what you want out of a partner. They're around when you're trying to get something done and here to help you. So how do we differentiate ourselves? First in technology, and both the existing technology and future technology. And secondly, through, are we truly a partner?
Is there a dollar figure for this investment in customer service?
I haven't gone through and calculated it. We were going to pay for this one way or another. You were going to pay for this through doing better services, or you were going to pay through losing customers. And so I'm just trusting our retention numbers will get better; we'll win share as people start to hear about this.
What kind of customer loss has CDK had?
We don't make that public.
But you've had some losses?
Oh, sure. There's always some turnover.
Does Fortellis, your open network development platform, set you apart from your competitors?
Sure, but that's not why you do it. You do it because you really want to be the partner to the dealers. Some of the dealers are sophisticated now; they're doing their own applications — in the inventory, on their lots, or locations on their lots, so they want to participate in this. The average dealer has about 13 different software suppliers into their system. So we're not going to be the solution for every solution to every dealer. And so we want to be the best at helping them bring that all together. It makes it easy for them to see the data and easy for them to operate. So, it simply takes agreeing that you're not going to be everything, and then say, so how can we still be the best partner to [that customer]?