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When Quick is Not Quick Enough – Car Dealers Losing Leads

Mystery shopper surveys on both sides of the Atlantic have found that car dealers have to shape up to maximise the potential of online leads. Otherwise they’re at risk of losing valuable sales.

In Britain, this year’s Click Awards run by Auto Trader found that 34% of online enquires made to car dealers regarding arranging a test drive didn’t get a response or the response took longer than 4 hours. Looking at the overall number of enquiries (not just test-drive-related), 25% of attempts to contact a car salesman resulted in no response at all, which is pretty criminal!

Similar situation has been recorded in the U.S. Pied Piper PSI – the ultimate mystery shoppers for the automotive industry – found that 7% of the 11,000+ online enquiries they made to auto dealers didn’t receive any response whatsoever. 25% of the emails received no response within 24 hours. This is better than 2 years ago when the no-response rate was 12%. Nevertheless, there’s room for improvement.

There is some good news, however – 56% of the enquiries were followed up via the phone which is a great improvement compared to 48% back in 2011. What is disappointing, though, is the dwindling number of dealers who attempt to book a dealership visit appointment.

In 2011 dealership visits were offered to 23% of enquires, compared to only 16% this year. After all – selling face-to-face is easier than over the phone and getting people to test-drive cars is a great way to try to convert online leads.

This Annoying Enquiry Can be a Potential Lead

Oh no, another email from somebody asking about that Chevrolet’s colour options! Must be a time waster. And what if he’s not? One thing that some dealerships get wrong (and I guarantee that I’ll meet some of them on the internet message boards complaining about the lack of leads and all the bad things that had happened to them because of the recession) is how they treat and handle internet leads.

Can Live Chat Improve the Things?

It can but it’s no magic bullet. Because the live chat facilities (at least the ones that work) do cost money to implement and run, it’s no good to just implement it and forget about it. Somebody competent has to actually commit to responding to those live chat enquiries.

Although "live" might suggest a higher customer satisfaction rate, it’s not exactly the case. The Click Awards survey shows that only 10% of test drive enquiries made to car dealers via live chat services received a positive response and resulted in a test drive (and potential sales). What happened to the remaining 90%? Well, the survey doesn’t actually say but I think you can imagine…

The bottomline is that CRM, Live Chat, Twitter and any other channels that can be used to carry out customer relationship tasks, are just tools. Whether you convert these bonus leads into sales or brand advocates, is entirely up to you and your staff.

Another feature that is often overlooked is Q&A. It can work very well for the automotive sector. For example, "Ask the Experts" by Creditplus.co.uk. It’s designed to answer auto loan related questions, and although it takes time to manage the system, it improves customer confidence and understanding of the products.

Two Working Days is no longer Enough

There is this silly adage floating around suggesting that as long as you respond to an email within 2 working days, you’re technically not rude. Well, the reason why I called it silly is that it’s more than 10 years old. When most people had to go to their local library or crank up their dial-up to gain access to their Mailcity.com account and check the electronic mail, it was acceptable to respond within two working days. Not any more.

If you look at the hip, well-respected and well-connected brands out there, be it a response to a tweet, a call-back or indeed a response to a support email, it all happens real time. In the age of social media, we can pretty much talk about instantaneous customer service. What the internet has really done is Increased the pace of our lives and everyone is expecting a timely answer. Is your car dealership implementing the best practices? How long does it take for you to respond to online leads?

Views: 112

Tags: chat, crm, customer, leads, live, sales

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Comment by Ken Lees on November 4, 2013 at 4:37am

Arvid, could not agree more how important it is for dealers to have capabilities of responding immediately -- after all, don't we all want it when we want it AND where we want it?  There's some compelling conversion technology that provides shoppers (WITHIN SECONDS) the ability to request and receive personalized, detailed, professional-looking price quotes, lease quotes AND Offers on any new or pre-owned vehicle in your inventory -- again, within seconds of providing accurate contact information, any time of day, every day of the year!  Dealers should check it out:  http://automarksolutions.com/products.php

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