J. D. Power and Associates: On the Road to Fixing RFQ
Posted by Amit Aggarwal at 2/26/2008 12:00 AM CST
Last December I posted an entry The Trouble with RFQs highlighting some fundamental problems with the new-vehicle lead submission process. One of the central issues is that new-vehicle shoppers have figured out the process isn’t worth giving up their personal information: they are too often ignored, harassed (i.e. placed on email lists), or pushed to come in to the dealership (which many are trying to avoid in the first place).
While there is no simple solution to addressing this issue, a major component is the amount of information requested of shoppers. kbb.com requires more information than most: name, email, address, phone, contact preference, purchase timeframe, model, and trim. Toyota.com is more frugal in its RFQ requirements: name, email, zip, and model. Dealer sites can also run the gamut, but my quick scan showed that they generally opt for less information.
Neither approach is inherently good or bad: instead, sites must gauge the tradeoff between lead quality and quantity. Requiring more information presumably results in higher quality leads and can help the salesperson better address the customer’s needs, but will also scare away others. Less required information should generate higher usage by reducing the barriers in the shopper’s mind, but may also lead more non-shoppers to participate.
Instead, it comes back to trust. Can the shopper trust the site, the dealer, and the process? And what can sites do to create a little bit more trust in the shopper’s mind? Here are some ideas:
Internet users are conditioned to be wary of emails lists and spam. If you offer a “Sign me up for your mailing lists” option, default to “no” so that shoppers can opt in. Defaulting to “yes” may be viewed by some as predatory.
No one charges for RFQ submission. Calling it a “Free Price Quote” is disingenuous at best.
Explain in plain English what’s going to happen when someone submits a quote request, how quickly they should expect a response (easier for dealers to do this), etc. Here’s an example from Subaru.
Avoid an overly complex process. Nissan puts users through a five-step RFQ process, whereas most require one to two clicks at most.
Don’t scare the prospect. Check out Mitsubishi’s disclaimer: “By providing my phone number I hereby consent to allow MMNA and/or its authorized Mitsubishi Motors Dealerships to contact me by telephone in conjunction with Mitsubishi Motor products, services or promotions.” How many of us are going to give away our contact details after reading this?
Offer Live Help. Among OEM sites, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Mazda allow shoppers to interact (chat, Web talk, phone) directly with a real live person.
RFQ is still a salvageable process, but as an industry we need to adjust the process to reflect reality – that privacy concerns and a distrust of the process are stunting the growth of online lead submissions. I’d be interested in any of your ideas or feedback.