“At Cleve-Hill, we love customer service,” shares Joe Nicosia, Jr., Vice President of Cleve-Hill Auto & Tire. “In fact, it was our interest in new ways to better serve today’s customers that led us to Openbay Otis intelligent chat.”
Cleve-Hill Auto & Tire is a successful family-owned and -operated auto and tire service business located in the Buffalo, NY region. The operation includes three retail locations, all proud NAPA AutoCare Centers, in addition to a thriving wholesale tire operation.
Service excellence has been important to Cleve-Hill from the start. Joe’s father founded Cleve-Hill Auto & Tire in 1976 as a single-location gas station and service center. His vision was to provide local vehicle owners with high-quality automotive service and go above and beyond to care for their customers and staff. From the beginning, the Nicosia family has worked hard to earn trust and loyalty. As a result, today Cleve-Hill has a growing loyal customer base, a dedicated team of expert technicians, and continued business growth.
The Customer Service Experience that Launched a Wholesale Tire Operation
Joe explains that Cleve-Hill’s wholesale tire business got its start from their mission to fill customer needs with above and beyond service. In this case, the customers were other local automotive service business owners. “Our wholesale business started when other shops in our area needed tires,” Joe says. “We were known for delivering excellent service with a quality experience. We started to serve local tire dealers. And, from there, we launched our wholesale business.”
Cleve-Hill’s goal for the wholesale operation is to “help tire dealers operate efficiently, compete in the market, and sell more tires,” states Joe. For this reason, Cleve-Hill integrates with TireConnect. In Joe’s words, “The TireConnect team is committed to the same goals we have set for our business: to help tire dealers service their customers and grow.”
Today Joe drives Cleve-Hill’s path forward, guided by the business mission set by his father 45 years ago. His goal is to connect with both customers and staff, and to find the building blocks needed to operate and grow in today’s modern business environment.
For Joe, the COVID-19 pandemic offered an unexpected opportunity to step into the day to day business with fresh perspective. His intention was to deeply understand the business model, solve real issues, and set a foundation for future success. Joe took on a variety of roles that gave him direct exposure to different sides of Cleve-Hill’s operations.
Finding Growth in the Day-to-Day Business
The experience proved eye-opening. “Every part proved valuable,” Joe says.“I tested out processes that had been in place for years (including some that I had put in place myself), worked with customers, and even evaluated our spending line by line. Each role helped me see firsthand what works and what needs to improve.”
Joe discovered several opportunities to improve business operations to better serve clients and position Cleve-Hill for success. The top of the list was the need for a consumer experience better aligned with today’s ‘always online’ consumer.
“Our family business made its mark by offering the highest quality service experience to our customers,’ states Joe. “This focus hasn’t changed, but our consumers have. They are online more than ever and expect instant information. We needed to update how we do business to keep up with what today’s digital-first consumers expect from a quality service experience today.”
Research shows Joe’s insights are on point. Today’s consumers expect a business to be available in a way that’s convenient to them. In fact, according to Salesforce’s State of the Connected Consumer,’ 64% expect a real-time response. In addition, McKinsey & Company research shows that during the pandemic consumers moved dramatically to online products and services. Digital customer interactions accelerated as much as 3 years in the past year.
Transforming the Customer Service Experience with Intelligent Chat
Joe looked for an innovative solution to transform the Cleve-Hill consumer experience and accelerate business growth. “I believe technology gives us an advantage as an independent operator. We need to operate professionally and offer the quality service Cleve-Hill is known for. We already have the advantage that we’re local and know first-hand what our customers want and need. When we add innovation to the customer experience, we position ourselves for lasting success.”
Joe’s search for a technology solution to align with the needs of Cleve-Hill’s digital-first consumers led him to Openbay Otis. Otis is the intelligent, automated chat and messaging platform designed specifically for the automotive service industry. Otis installs on a business website and appears like a button, but jumps into action to gain the attention of the website visitor. Intelligent, automated Otis is available to quickly answer questions and deliver the information they are seeking in a chat-like format. It operates 24/7. It performs tasks such as appointment setting, delivers service estimates, and responds to questions about the business.
Otis, powered by AI (artificial intelligence), supports single-location businesses in addition to service centers having multiple locations. Additionally, Otis integrates with TireConnect and includes a tire catalog, able to retrieve tire pricing and availability information, and book installation service appointments. All within chat, in real-time.
Creating a Customer-Centric Online Experience with Openbay Otis
Joe installed Otis on the Cleve-Hill website, powered by Net Driven. Otis equips Cleve-Hill to deliver a customer experience that meets the needs of today’s digital-first consumers who expect personalized service on demand.
Joe explains that “Otis makes our business more ‘sticky.’ It allows us to be available to new and returning online customers at their convenience, 24/7. And, it uses a chat-like method that they are familiar with – and prefer.” Joe continues, “because Otis is designed specifically to give intelligent, personalized responses, it makes their online service experience with us more customer-centric.”
Additionally, Otis helps improve business operations. “We like Otis because it takes the pressure off our team,” reports Joe. “Usually, when we are busy, the phone rings off the hook with no answer or the team needs to take it off the hook. Otis gives our staff more capacity to focus on the most important work because Otis helps take on extra tasks. Now, we know ‘Otis can handle that.’ The team can focus on the customer and the car in front of them.”
Furthermore, Joe shares that Otis helps Cleve-Hill improve the customer experience and win new customers. “The quality of our customer service has increased with Otis installed on our website. We know our customers’ lives keep changing. They are busy and now manage their lives around the clock. Otis helps us stay in step with our digital-first customers,” Joe says. “Otis makes it easy for them to schedule appointments and get the answers they need to do business with us.”
Gaining Customers and Growing Service Revenue with Openbay Otis
Otis sets Cleve-Hill up for future growth. Joe explains, “Otis not only gives us opportunities now, and it also brings us potential future business. Otis captures new customer contact information on most interactions. So, if the website visitor is not a customer today but they’ve shown interest in our services, we have their information. This lets us market to them down the road when they are ready.”
Joe shares his advice for other business owners considering Otis. “I would encourage a look at the ‘hard math,’ he says. Joe expands on his point. “We analyzed our current tickets in addition to the team’s current bandwidth and stress levels. From there, we calculated if Otis’ monthly fee would be worth the investment to help us gain more customers automatically and 24/7. Our math showed Otis pays for itself after 1-2 customer services, and the ROI is trackable. Otis is a smart investment and a key part of our growth plan.”
Joe offers his final perspective on Otis’ benefits to Cleve-Hill. “COVID-19 made me assess what resources we really need to operate the Cleve-Hill business at a high level today. For us, Otis is what we need. Otis creates a more convenient and personalized customer service experience. It offers the quality service Cleve-Hill is known for, elevated for today’s world. Otis helps our team work more efficiently and keeps operations running smoothly. Above all, Otis also gives me peace of mind as a business owner. At any time of the day, I know Otis is there working for us.”
To discover how Openbay Otis intelligent, automated chat and messaging platform can elevate the customer service experience, move website visitors into service bays, and create efficient operations, contact Openbay today.
Want to learn more about intelligent, automated online chat? This article from Openbay founder and CEO Rob Infantino explains the benefits of the latest chat and messaging technologies. Or, listen to Rob discuss online chat platforms with Tire Review Managing Editor Madeline Winer.
top photo credit: @lakeeffectvan